Arab Hip-Hop hits SXSW
Arab Hip-Hop Hits SXSW
As thousands of music lovers from around the world gather in Austin for the nation’s premier music festival, one trio of performers would like to issue a warning: Be afraid… be very afraid… or better yet, Paranoid.
On March 18th Omar Offendum, Ragtop and the Narcicyst – three pioneers of Arab-American hip-hop – will be coming together on stage as The Paranoids. Individually and collectively, these artists have contributed to musical milestones including the first Arab-American album to gain national distribution and the first ever hip-hop performance in Damascus. They will be making history again as the first Arabs to be invited to showcase their talents at South by Southwest.
The Narcicyst is an Iraqi MC and actor currently residing in Montréal. Explaining why the three solo artists chose The Paranoids as their collective moniker, he says “As Arabs in North America, we’re viewed as suspect – which makes us bug out every time we go to the airport, expecting to get detained. So it’s like everyone’s paranoid of each other – we’re all Paranoids”. For more on his airport experiences and random strip searches, please check out his video for P.H.A.T.W.A. (Political Hip-Hop Attracting The World’s Attention) Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtoHCUMpNMY
The Paranoids’ music is socially conscious and critical, hard-hitting and playful, uplifting and mournful– a lyrical and sonic reflection of their mixed upbringing. According to MC/producer Omar Offendum (a Syrian-American architect), “We sample everything from Nina Simone to [iconic Egyptian singer] Umm Kalthoum, in doing so paying homage to the artists that influenced us, and informing each culture a bit more about the other”.
Having performed internationally in Europe, the Mideast, Asia, and the Americas, The Paranoids are excited to share their music and message with the crowds in Austin. According to Ragtop (a Palestinian-American screenwriter), “We’ve definitely been blessed to be able to travel and perform literally all over the world – I think what connects with people isn’t just that it’s entertaining or has a dope beat, there’s also some substance there. It’s bigger than hip-hop.”
The Paranoids perform together on March 18 at Club 115, as well as at the M FOR MONTREAL showcase (The Narcicyst) At Paradise.
The Paranoids’ attendance at South by Southwest was made possible by Jackson Allers & the Jordan-based Immortal Entertainment.
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