Summer camp may seem like an unlikely place to create a successful, internationally-acclaimed rap group.
But in the early 90s, during an era when the mix of rap and musical activism was at its prime, three amateur, Muslim-American artists saw an opportunity to blend the Islamic faith and hip-hop culture.
Roughly a decade later — the same year as the Sept. 11 attacks — the trio formed Native Deen, a Washington, D.C., based rap group,which celebrates the Islamic-American experience using a fusion of hip-hop and R&B flavor.
Native Deen meet with students during a trip with members of the U.S. State Department to a school in the Palestinian territories in 2006.
"We grew up during the golden ages of hip-hop. This was the music and the language of young people," group member Naeem Muhammad told NBC News. Their mission? "To spread an uplifting message of Islam" to combat the misunderstanding of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, said group member Abdul-Malik Ahmad. The group now boasts sold out performances internationally and in 2006 won an Al-Mahabba Award, which celebrates Muslim achievements in the arts, in Dubai. "Our music came at a time where a lot of young Muslims were having issues with identity," Muhammad said, adding that Muslim youth often struggle with merging "their Muslim identity with all of their American identity" while growing up in a country that misunderstands their faith. Source