A Cultural Mélange of Epic Proportions in The Narcicyst //
The Narcicyst, a.k.a. Jamal Abdel Narcel, a.k.a. Yassin Alsalman, a.k.a. Narcy is a bonafide entertainer. A mish-mash of all things East and West, he has style most Arabs would call ‘ajeeb (or strange), most Westerners would call Oriental, and what I call a rad cultural mélange.
His latest, self-titled album The Narcicyst is a memoir of sorts–especially on tracks like “P.H.A.T.W.A.” and “The Narcicyst”– but in many ways, it’s not a memoir specific to the artist but to being an Arab in North America. The album deals with the portrayal of Arabs in the media and the newscast-type lyrics are accompanied by samples from television shows and the news. Yassin has an M.A. in Media Studies from Concordia University, the entire scope of his work make this evident. He has built his own niche in educated, creative, and political hip-hop while still being entertaining instead of preachy (unlike some yawn worthy conscious hip-hop artists).
Narcy collaborates with Arab artists like Syrian-American rapper Omar Offendum on “The Last Arabs”, whose softer voice are a good balance to Narcy’s more aggressive tones, and Shadia Mansour on “Hamdulilah”, a song which sends shivers down your spine with its power. The albums’ beats touch on a variety of eras and instruments. The violin consistently returns throughout the album as it invites us into the album and escorts us out. Many of the tracks evoke memories of REAL hip-hop, not the homogeneous, commercial stuff that fills our ears today, the same goes with the Arabic type beats he uses. The sound in “No More Mr. Nice Guy” is a little like Metronomy’s “The End of You Too”–if that song was on Egyptian steroids.
Narcy utilizes the power of creativity in hip-hop to its full potential, “Lie of the Century (Untrulude)” is an homage to the Arabic national anthems sung by children in the madrasah where the lyrics describe how Arabs are not a source for oil. Serious subject matters are lightened with fun beats and quirky song names. If you’re too lazy to pick up the newspaper or the latest current affairs book, pick up The Narcicyst instead, you’ll do fine in a political argument afterwards.
About the Author: Danah Abdulla was not born in Canada but has lived here since the age of two. A Palestinian with a degree from the University of Ottawa in something other than Engineering (Mass Communications, minor Commerce), she lives in Toronto where she works as a Digital Cultivator for a big advertising agency. She’s a freelance writer and a blogger. She likes to doodle, read, make jokes, and dance.