Iraq, Cross-border
MusicThe Arts

The Narcicyst’s Resistance Through Hip Hop

When art becomes a way to resist

.Yassin Alsalman, better known by his stage name Narcy, is an Iraqi Hip-Hop singer who was brought up in Canada. Narcy aims to change those stereotypes of the Middle East and add an onslaught of Arab voices in Hip Hop.  His music is not an imitation of the western type of Hip hop. In fact, his music reflects the life of an Arab Muslim who was brought up in two different cultures. He assimilates Eastern and Western culture through his music.

For him, Music is not only away to express himself, but also a powerful political tool in which he uses his voice to talk about people who are being oppressed and being subjected to so many injustices in the Middle East.  He defines Hip Hop as “highly intelligent people hovering over politics.” He uses hip-hop as a way to explore a range of issues, including race, colonialism, religion, the history of art and personal identity.

The Narcicyst’s lyrics and sense of humor convey the complexity of their own reality of being Arab, Muslim and Western in a post-September 11 world. Narcy got his master’s degree in Media Studies, ultimately shaping the context and ethos behind his work. As part of his thesis, he recorded an album titled ” The Summit – Fear of An Arab”  with a group of Arab-American MC’s.

Following Donald Trump’s presidency, Narcy released a song called “Fake News”  which it deals with Trump’s decision to ban Muslims from entering the United states. Narcy felt the urge to talk about what was going around regarding immigrants, refugees, Muslims, brown people in general, black people.  According to Narcy, “Fake News” is a way to be direct about what people should be paying attention to, without force-feeding them anything.

 

Another famous song by Narcy is called “Hamduillah” featuring Shadia Mansour,  Palestinian-British rapper widely considered “the first lady of Arabic hip hop”, tackle very personal and often political issues in their music. “Hamdulillah” itself touches on piety and humility, and it also pays homage to the struggles of their home countries of Iraq and Palestine. “Hamduillah” was also featured in the famous movie Fast and Furious 7. 

Narcy is not only an ambitious artist. He’s also an actor, journalist, and educator, seeking to transmit his experience of being Arab (especially Iraqi) in the West through his work.  As a part-time professor at Concordia College, he turns the mirror around on the genre. Narcy teaches a class called “Hip-Hop: Past, Present, and Future.” Enlightening youth on how hip-hop itself, as an art form, goes hand in hand with a culture of resistance.

Besides Hip Hop, Narcy discussed the struggles he faces living with juxtaposing cultures and a hybrid Arab-North American identity in his book Diatribes of a Dying Tribe. Moreover, He expresses his hybrid Arab-North American identity through his style and fashion.  In his own words:

“One of the elements of hip-hop is how you present yourself. I like mixing cultures because that’s how I grew up.”

As Hip Hop is a type of art. Arab artists, such as Narcy, take this art and make it as a way of resistance and reflecting culture.

 

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