D-Rose’s life was the subject of drill rap songs. In the 2012s, the drill rap scene led by artist Chief Keef took Chicago by storm. “To drill” meant to shoot and the music was associated with the harsh realities of gang and street life on Chicago’s South Side. The nickname “D-Rose” became infamous to listeners. The song “Love Sosa”, by Chief Keef, raps “Don’t make me call D. Rose boy, he a six double O, boy and he keep that pole (gun) boy, you gon’ get fuc*ed over.” The nickname “D-Rose” is taken from the Chicago Bulls basketball player Derrick Rose’s nickname “D-Rose”, then the league’s MVP. It is a metaphor with street implications that play on the idea of the NBA player being the ‘top shooter” at the time. In one song after another D-Rose’s life was on full view. He was convicted of murder at 17 years old and given a 40-year prison sentence. While in prison he converted to Islam. In this Black Dawah Network exclusive interview, Hakeem Muhammad, J.D, spoke to D-Rose/Ahbir Sardin.
Hakeem Muhammad: As-Salaam Alakium Brother Ahbir. I hope you got that copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X we sent you.
D-Rose/Ahbir: Walikum saalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. Yeah, I have read Malcolm X’s Autobiography. InshAllah, I will give it to someone else who I think will benefit.
Hakeem Muhammad: Malcolm X talks about some real stuff in that book especially when he says “In the ghettos, the white man has built for us he has forced us not to aspire to greater things but to look to everyday living here for survival.” But, his life was transformed by the message of Islam and I know you have also come to Islam, Alhamdulillah. What would you say Islam done for you?
D-Rose/Ahbir Sardin: Islam has made my relationship with Allah, subhana wata ala more strong. It made me aware of my morals, why I felt the way I did in the past, and Islam urges me to be kind, show love, and compassion. Even now, fasting humbles me and gives me the perspective that I need. Islam has helped me a lot. Islam is the guidance of righteousness and livelihood. Islam assures me that I’m not supposed to be heartless.
Hakeem Muhammad: We know the prison system is white supremacy’s tool to re-enslave Black people. What are you doing to stay strong behind enemy lines?
D Rose/Ahbir Sardin: Reading the Qu’ran and going to Jummah every time. It strengthens my faith and doing tasbih. I like to hear talks about Allah, s.w.a and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Being among the Muslims, it strengthens me.
Hakeem Muhammad: I know you were involved deeply in Chicago’s drill rap scene. In a lot of those songs, we see Black brothers threatening their “ops.” Given the history of how Black communities in Chicago were systematically oppressed and marginalized, what would you say to the proposition that white supremacy is our greatest “op”?
D Rose/Ahbir Sardin: I’m aware of the injustices and the fact that the constitution was made when we were slaves and the history of Jim Crow. I’m aware of the Willie Lynch syndrome. My consciousness is there.
Hakeem Muhammad: Definitely, I think it is through Islam that we are gonna get rid of the Willie Lynch mentality. We need to bring a Mosque to your hood in o-block where our brothers in the streets can learn about Islam.
D Rose/Ahbir Sardin: Opening a Mosque near that hood is great and I would love it like I would be so thankful brother.