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SA-RA: Purveyors of 'Afro Magnetic Electronic Spiritualism'

Author: Tranznewz
Friday, August 4, 2006
Experience and innovation. In the age of young thugs and one-hit wonders, these two traits are often missing from today's Hip-Hop.

Not so, with SA-RA. The Los Angeles/New York-based group/production trio consisting of Taz Arnold, Shafiq Husayn and Om'Mas Keith are stepping from behind the boards for their G.O.O.D. Music/SONY Urban Music debut.

"This is something we talked about and joked about for years," says Taz. "All of us were producers and artists as individuals, but we knew each other and were fond of each other's work."

Ironically, Taz and Shafiq met at a mosque they both attended. According to Taz, he knew Shafiq was already an established producer and they often discussed music and their respective projects. In fact, it was Shafiq's work with Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate Records, of which Shafiq was a main staff producer, that introduced Om'Mas into the trio.

"At one point, Shafiq & Om'Mas lived and shared a studio on Sugar Hill in Harlem. When they would come back to L.A. they would use my studio," Taz recalls. "So, Shafiq introduced me to Om'Mas. Ever since then, we all kept in contact and would build on music. Eventually, we decided we wanted to make a super group/production-type thing happen."

Having logged years of studio time as individual producers, the members of SA-RA are by no means newcomers to the game. However, their sound
is unlike anything you have ever heard before. Not bad for a group that only "officially" formed four years ago.

A Master Teacher, Street Fashion Icon and native of South Central Los Angeles, Taz worked as a primary creative consultant and talent scout for Dr. Dre while he crafted hip-hop's historic 'The Chronic 2001'. His input would include helping to actually name the LP. Additionally, his continued work with Dre would eventually land him a label deal with Aftermath Records.

Shafiq has an impressive resume of his own. The Bronx, NY/LA-bred Master Teacher, Zulu King and Record Guru had previously been signed to SONY, and produced for a vast array of artists (i.e., Ice-T, Body Count, Lord Finesse, D.X.T., Afrika Bambaataa, Prince, Duran Duran), movie soundtracks (New Jack City) and scores (Deep Cover).

SA-RA's third Master Teacher, Hollis Queens, NY-bred Om'Mas began honing his craft at the age of 15 while interning at RCA Records. As a staff producer for the late, great Jam Master Jay, he would produce and/or engineer on tracks for Onyx, Run DMC, Lauryn Hill and a young 50 Cent. Later on, a production deal with Suavehouse Records would have him working with 8-Ball & MJG, Mobb Deep, Foxy Brown, Coolio, Charlie Baltimore & Ice Cube.

"We all come from a very strong, royal Black lineage; that's one of the many things that we all have in common," Om'Mas notes. "We all came
from humble beginnings; none of us have rich parents, but we were all schooled by our parents to have a mindset to know that we can take over
if we want to.

However, after years of creating for others, SA-RA decided to go for self. "We decided to put all of our previous endeavors aside," says Om'Mas. "We agreed that all the endeavors that we would have in the entertainment field for right now would be under the auspices of this thing called SA-RA…our thing, our way."

With the trio now ready to record, they immediately had a vision for their sound. "We understood that before anything, the music had to be competitive and unique to get anybody's attention," says Taz. "You
can't just do what the next man is doing. Our music might be considered left on some level, but it is always very well thought out. It's meant to be that way. It's on purpose." "We are the perfect blend of what the streets want and what the streets need," Shafiq adds. "It's a delicate balancing act, but we're up for the challenge!"

"Say you have a lot of cats standing on the corner, and on one<