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A Rapper's Spiritual Journey

February 08, 2003|William Lobdell | Times Staff Writer

"I don't regret nothing in my past," Beale said. "People respect me more because of it. It shows that only God can humble someone like me."

The Studio City barbershop he owns with his brother maintains a distinctly hip-hop flavor. Baggy shirts and pants and sideways baseball caps are the standard uniform at Platinum Kutz. Platinum records featuring Shakur and the Outlawz line the mirrors. ("The records I've appeared on have sold 40 million copies," Beale said.) And hair-cutters occasionally pause in their work to critique the rap music videos playing on televisions mounted to the ceilings.

Beale laughs when he thinks about people within the hip-hop industry reading about his religious conversion:

"They'll never believe it." He's working on a solo album called "Scriptures From a Thug's Point of View," featuring cleaned-up lyrics. But Beale's quick to point out that "everything still comes from my heart. This music is just ridiculous."

The pilgrimage to Mecca, a place only Muslims can enter, is another step in his spiritual journey, a trip he believes was a call from God.

"They say only Allah invites you to Mecca," Beale said.

Beale and other Muslims will perform holy acts that include circling the Ka'aba, the stone building that Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son, Ishmael; throwing stones at three pillars outside Mecca representing Satan's temptation of the patriarch; and the supplication to God on the plain of Arafah, where Muhammad delivered his last sermon, the climax of hajj.

On the final day, Muslims worldwide will celebrate with communal prayers, gifts to children, and visits with family and friends in a Festival of Sacrifice called Eid ul-Adha.

Beale said he wants his pilgrimage to be a time of spiritual cleansing, allowing him to be a better example to young rappers and "the cats on the street."

"I don't try to preach to them," he said. "You can only lead by example."

Beale also said he's not concerned about the possibility of a war in Middle East while he's in Saudi Arabia.

"I found Allah, I'm not worried," Beale said. "And I've been in many Jersey neighborhoods worse than any war."

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