“In light of all the current events that are going on, it just seems like we’re living in really divided times. And it really hurts,” the British actor and rapper told Fallon. “I wrote this piece ten years ago and every year, I keep hoping it will become irrelevant. But every year, it seems to become more and more relevant, sadly. And it’s my attempt to try and get behind the headlines and try and find out where all this extremism is coming from.”
He then took a microphone from Fallon, and soberly walked over to the part of the stage normally reserved for stand-up. The lights faded as he took a moment to compose himself before beginning his flow.
Titled “Sour Times,” the poem artfully breaks down the ways in which the myth of Islam as inherently violent is perpetuated, and how extremism is a modern problem caused by poverty, disenfranchisement, and foreign wars. Ahmed used a repeating refrain: “In these sour times, please allow me to vouch for mine/bitter taste in my mouth, spit it out with a rhyme/I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines.”
Watch the powerful performance below: