Since I was a kid I struggled with racial identity. I was raised by Hip-Hop and I am ethnically Arab & Armenian with an Islamic background. I have been taught so much and it is an honor to feel the support from the African-American community — the bedrock of hiphop.
But my struggles have often seemed confusing. People think I’m European. But while I may have lighter skin color, I am by all means a Semite. Not European. My origins are from West Asia & North Africa. There is no such thing as a Middle East. That’s Anglo-Saxon colonial verbiage.
I’ve clashed with even people of color on this notion especially artists like Kanye or the less overt individuals who are part of the minority but prefer to pander to white supremacy. I’ve clashed with artists like Talib Kweli —
A highly respected individual in the hiphop community even by myself until harassment and threats began due to my requests for due payment.
But who I once that I knew transformed into a Talib Kweli echoing the bully verbiage of White Supremacists, who also hate homosexuals. Eventually this transpired out of control and I referred to the gentleman as an “Uncle Tom” and a “Coon”. These racial pejoratives are unacceptable but that does not erase the following realities:
On Kweli’s roster of artists sits a “closeted” Donald Trump supporter and an individual who owes me money. His name is NIKO IS. I was his ghost writer for years.
My question is, do you think Kweli is behaving normally? Because he has a manic obsession with Twitter.
What is wrong for me to use those words? Perhaps.
But realize that Kweli intentionally suppressed me, a Muslim Syrian refugee and dreamer who produced hit songs for his artists without pay. Even a song Kweli himself featured on. No pay. No recognition. No support. And yet, Here is Kweli, the supposed ambassador of oppressed communities, playing favoritism with a lackluster artist who enjoys the privileges of being light skinned and an American citizen, in order to prevent artists and producers like me, a “Dreamer” and DACA recipient, a descendant of genocide and war, from flourishing.
While Talib Kweli has some goodness in his heart he has drifted into a Kanye like troll. The man bullies homosexuals, and enabled an entire collective to threaten me physically — granted cowards never showed up.
Talib Kweli, perhaps the most accurate description is that you are a sell out. And you sold out an entire class of people with more talent than your entire roster combined. That’s not to be mean. It’s about business and market value, as well as speaking to the relevant struggles of today (immigration, racism, etc). It’s no wonder the artist you chose to put on gets no shine. They nor your fans identify with anything these empty artists have to say.
If you are so successful, why do you still have to DJ gigs to survive, Kweli?
I was raised by African American culture, from the Garveys to the Robesons, Malcolms to the DuBois, and believe as an Armenian and Arab that I have deep Kush/Semitic roots in Northeast Africa (particularly Ethiopia or Abyssinia). This might be a stretch to some. I’m just trying to understand myself.
The confusion arises mainly because my dad is light skinned and idolizes Europe and in fact probably has European in him while I have very little to none. While my mom is darker and Arab. Purely from Asia/North Africa.
And yet still my father identifies more with Europe and white washed idolatry than his own Armenian heritage. He cares more about conspiracy theories and preserving authoritarianism.
It is sad what empty and insecure souls attach themselves to in order to feel fulfilled.
These attachments breeds bitterness.
As for the future, I am currently focused on setting up a national tour. I have spent the past few months sobering up, detoxing and cleansing my body spiritually and thanks to God I feel more apt than ever to take on my ambitions. Soon enough, I’ll commence a new project, but right now, I have accumulated about 500 songs. Only about 100 have been released. And only 10 are perfect, to me.
The next album will be 10 perfect songs. I will be investing in new equipment and gear, so surely it will be a fun and meaning auditory experience.
My health has been steadily improving. I took an executive decision to detox my body and focus on what I love instead of meaningless vanities and frivolous instant gratifications. My ambitions are so much greater. But when I decided to detox, I experienced severe withdrawals. I began to realize much of my intoxication, mostly from Marijuana, was linked to my inability to cope with the harshness of my life, as mentioned above.
Currently I am okay, thank God. It has been a tough journey. But God is guiding me through and the support of those who mean most to me is ever present. I am honored and grateful.
I am excited for what is to come, and pray that I may find peace, solace and fulfillment in these endeavors.