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Diverse backgrounds blending in harmony

Dressed in red with a checkered Palestinian scarf wrapped around her neck, a little girl s route to school is disrupted by military aircrafts, a checkpoint and a big bad wolf dressed in an army uniform. This is the story told in Outlandish s latest video Look into my Eyes, which they describe as their …

Dressed in red with a checkered Palestinian scarf wrapped around her neck, a little girl s route to school is disrupted by military aircrafts, a checkpoint and a big bad wolf dressed in an army uniform.

This is the story told in Outlandish s latest video Look into my Eyes, which they describe as their own interpretation of the classic folk tale Little Red Riding Hood .

The group s own vision is usually embedded in their videos. But to understand their vision, one must learn about their diverse backgrounds and common aspirations.

It all began in the suburbs of Copenhagen where three friends with different backgrounds discovered they had a lot in common and together unraveled their talents.

Both born in Denmark, Moroccan Isam Bachiri and Pakistani Waqas Qadri met almost 15 years ago, and later became friends with Lenny Martinez, who is originally from Cuba.

We were all into music, and we tried writing and rapping and we discovered we liked it . We kept working and pushing each other for the better, it was healthy competition, Bachiri told Daily News Egypt.

It wasn’t until the mid-90s that they decided to turn their talents into a career. By then, Bachiri said, they had matured enough and developed their own sound.

Their debut album Outland s Official was released in 2000, but it didn’t have as strong of an impact on the music charts as their second album Bread and Barrels of Water, which featured their hit single Aicha.

This is when we knew we really made it, we went on tour around Europe, Asia and the US, Bachiri said.

Their latest album Closer than Veins was released in 2005. The album features their hit singles Callin U and Look into My Eyes, whose lyrics are based on a poem by Gihad Ali, a Palestinian who wrote this poem when she was a teenager. The lyrics touch upon American foreign policy and the sufferings of those affected by it.

Although their songs are primarily in English, you can usually find Spanish, Urdu, Danish and Arabic lyrics in there as well. Each member writes the verses they sing on the track, but the words to the chorus are usually Bachiri s.

The three or more languages that make up a track generally follow a common theme. The group s different backgrounds and religions (Bachiri and Qadri being Muslim and Martinez being Christian) never seem to conflict in their music.

We all grew up in the same neighborhood, and hip-hop is about representing your community, Bachiri explained.

Bachiri gave the track I Only Ask of God as an example, saying that although it was written by a Christian, as a Muslim, I can still relate to it and sing it.

One of the tracks on the album Bread and Barrels of Water titled Fatima s Hand discusses the plight of women when they are faced with the pressures of marriage at a certain age.

With lyrics that read Fatima s 21, and around here when you re 21, you gotta start thinking about getting a man, getting a son, getting it done. it’s easy for people in the Middle East to relate to their music.

However, music is a universal language, says Bachiri. Through their music, Outlandish aim to reach out to as many people as they can, regardless of their background, nationality or religion.

You might listen to a song like Aicha and think this is song is about you, while another girl in Spain for example might listen to it and relate to it in a different way, he said.

A perfect example is the green curved line on the cover of their latest album. Bachiri explained that people in the Middle East tend to see that line as the letter Alif – the first letter in the Arabic alphabet, while western people might see it as the number 1. People interpret things differently, he said.

We re not trying to be gimmick, we re just three friends who use music to express ourselves, it s up to people to interpret that message, Bachiri told Daily News Egypt.

The group s music is not primarily inspired by Middle Eastern issues, said Bachiri, rather by the band members own experiences. It is part of who I am, so it is natural for me to infuse it with hip-hop.

Aicha – which featured veiled girls – is one of the group s most memorable videos. It was a powerful video, it shocked a lot of people, Bachiri told Daily News Egypt. He explained that people gave it a political nature, even though it was not meant to take that direction. It was a tribute to womanhood, to the women in my life.

Outlandish make videos that describe their music, whose concepts are based on their own visions, rather than giving it to some big shot director to impose his own visions, Bachiri said. This is why the group is involved with every phase of the creative process, from the lyrics, to the music, to the videos, even the design of the album cover.

According to Bachiri, Outlandish s sound is inspired from artists that range from Um Kulthoum to Lauren Hill and Common Sense. To them, music is timeless. We always look for the soul in the music, he said.

Bachiri believes that the hip-hop scene is developing in Egypt. He accredited Arabian Knightz – an Egyptian hip-hop group – and said that everyone should do their part in keeping Arabic hip-hop alive.

Bachiri wishes there were more people who dare to talk about their lives and experiences. In hip-hop, you describe who you are, what you believe so people can look back and understand what you were about.

He describes it as an exhibition of his life that people can check out. Art in general, Bachiri believes, builds relationships and help people understand more about one another.


Topics: Gamma Islamiya

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