Born at the Af-Pak border, Sohail Daulatzai is a writer, curator and professor, and is the founder of Razor Step, an L.A. based media lab. He is the author of Fifty Years of “The Battle of Algiers”: Past as Prologue, as well as Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America and co-editor of Born to Use Mics, a literary remix of Nas’s album Illmatic. He is the curator of the celebrated exhibit Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, and editor of the limited edition, companion commemorative book of the same name, which includes an interview with Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and an essay by Chuck D, the work of Jamel Shabazz, Ernie Paniccioli, and others, as well as album cover art, photography, flyers and other ephemera. He has written liner notes for the Sony Legacy Recordings Release of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set of Rage Against the Machine’s self titled debut album, the liner notes for the DVD release of Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme and the centerpiece in the museum catalog Movement: Hip-Hop in L.A., 1980’s – Now, and his other writings have appeared in The Nation, Counterpunch, Al Jazeera, Souls, Wax Poetics, and Artbound, amongst others.
He also curated the exhibit Histories Absolved: Revolutionary Cuban Poster Art and the Muslim International, which showcased the work of the Havana-based OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America) and their political graphic art of the 1960’s, ‘70’s and ‘80’s with Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and other Muslim majority countries. He is the founder of Groundings, a conversation series that has included Yasiin Bey, Immortal Technique, Chuck D, Rosa Clemente, dream hampton, Brother Ali, Robin D.G. Kelley and Jasiri X.
He has been awarded and received funding from the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, the University of California “Public Partnership in the Humanities,” the Doris Duke Fund, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, amongst others. He has been invited to present his work throughout the world at academic conferences, universities, art institutions, galleries, and literary festivals, including at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Georgetown, Duke, Columbia, University of Chicago, Berkeley, Stanford, Oxford University, SOAS (in London), EHESS (in Paris), American University Beirut, the Paris Hip-Hop Festival, the William Grant Still Art Center, the Asian American Writers Workshop, the Muslim Protagonist Festival, the Grammy Museum, and elsewhere. He teaches in the Department of Film and Media Studies, the Department in African American Studies, and the Program in Global Middle East Studies at the University of California, Irvine.