Directed by Reed Wyman
Regent Park Songs
Add date – 4/23/2020
“Stay Alive” is a track so fully realized, with a message so immediately resonant, and so clearly the work of an artist in full command of his art, that it’s not just a song, it’s a revelation. But the real revelation here is that it’s a debut single, the first foray by an almost unknown musician who’s all of 23. It wasn’t hype or networking that got Mustafa on XL imprint Regent Park Songs; it was everything he’s poured into an album full of songs like “Stay Alive.” This is music made by someone who had to make music. The young Muslim poet grew up in Toronto’s Regent Park, which unfortunately sees its fair share of gun violence. This quiet slice of Inner City Folk was born out of that violence. Instead of rage, Mustafa transformed recent tragedy into what The FADER calls “caring as an act of courage… one that feels especially apt amid the uncertainty of today.”
About “Stay Alive”
Mustafa’s telling a story that needs to be told. Caring doesn’t make for many clicks, and everyday tales of hopes and dreams out of places like the projects of Regent Park, free of braggadocio and cartoonish violence, don’t get nearly enough ears on them. Mustafa was first moved to make music after he lost several close friends to gun violence. He sings to the departed and to his hood, who must go on. Even with his serene demeanor, the effect is riveting. Every part of the song is understated, from the single guitar to the subtle keys and the mere suggestion of percussion. The finger-picked acoustic notes wander along the scales without hurry, matching Mustafa’s breathy, soulful vocals perfectly as he goes from nostalgic, to hopeful, to profoundly sad. The track was produced by Grammy-nominated Frank Dukes (Taylor, Kanye, Drake) and co-produced by Grammy-winner James Blake, who’s collaborated with everyone from Kendrick, Chance and Beyonce, to Flamenco innovator Rosalía and neo-soul prodigy Moses Sumney.
About the video
There’s a cool isolation that runs through the song and production that gets completely turned on its head once the visuals roll. Under grey skies, Mustafa walks the streets and stairwells of the blocks that bred him, surrounded by friends, family and neighbors. Supporters one and all. How many of the folks hanging out, throwing up signs or just having his back here have lost someone, maybe the same someones who inspired the track? NPR caught a sneak peek and felt the effect: “‘Stay Alive’ is a powerful plea… I found it hard not to get choked up as images of inner-city youth and lost innocence panned across the screen.” Director Reed Wyman wisely kept it simple, letting Mustafa’s message and presence do the job no amount of camera tricks or overdramatization could’ve done. Take a minute, take a breath, and take what Mustafa’s saying to heart in “Stay Alive.”
Want more from Mustafa and HIP Video Promo?
It’s an honor and a privilege to team up with our friends at XL Recordings once again to share Mustafa’s “Stay Alive” with the world! We’d love to see this video included in your regular programming and online content, so please let us know what we can do to make that happen, or if you’d like us to send some Mustafa merch for on-air contests and online giveaways. For more info, reach out to Andy Gesner and the HIP Video Promo crew at 732-613-1779 or email info@HIPVideoPromo.com, and follow Musta @MustafaThePoet on Twitter or Instagram.