"Yeah that's what Left is, the left back, left out, left rejected." - RWTL
If the Roots met the Red Hot Chili Peppers in N.E.R.D's studio, they'd form the mighty Leftist, the Universal hip-hop band that began its journey in 2009. At the time, Deen
asked Mahir to back him on drums on a whim. As he put it, he had become "disillusioned with spoken word poetry and performing in general" but gave it one more shot. He and Mahir had encountered each other in passing on University of Maryland, College Park campus and after years of performing and touring in other bands, Mahir happily agreed. As they were prepping to go on stage, former Leftist drummer Ismail Nicolas and bassist Diabate were plotting their own moves from the audience. They too were looking to join forces. While they had become friends through their college years, this would be the first time they'd get together to create. After a few jam sessions in Mahir's basement (the Batcave) and with a quite a few college shows on the way, the guys from all different backgrounds set out to prove they were worth being heard. Now they just needed a name to distinguish themselves. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the hardest part of the Leftist journey thus far. After debating over questionable names like The Shortstop Drifters, The Cave Dwellers, and Rebel Tinted Glasses and with a show literally hours away, Diabate suggested the group go with the name Deen had performed under once before; Leftist. Together, the core four crafted songs like Dearly Departed, Cold, Strength for the Shaken, Coliseum, as well as How to Speak and Ashamsu wal Qamr. They toured together until 2011, when each member decided to focus more on other personal goals (Mahir began his doctorate program, Deen moved to London, Ish and Diabate began Masters Programs.) This hiatus left the band's future in jeopardy until Diabate and Deen hit the road by themselves, holding down the Leftist banner. The group resurfaced as a 4-man band in Spring 2012, this time with Ebadullah in Ish's stead. Trouble over the Water surfaced out of this union but to get back to their high energy Leftist staple and with Mahir only part-time, they would need more than one person to step in. Insert: Mark and Bryant in Summer 2012. Since then, the band has continued touring and released its first studio offering produced by Khalil Ismail; the Left Is EP in March of 2013. This unique sound has led them to share the stage with a myriad of artist from Grammy-nominated soul singer Maimouna Youseff to hip-hop acts like Brother Ali and Logic all the way to psychedelic rock group MGMT. Its that sound that has also garnered enough attention to gain airplay in Africa, France, and the US; to name a few. With the expected late 2014 release of their upcoming LP, Up Rising, the group is out to show the world everyone should be rocking with the Left!