“As a pioneer of the diaspora, I really focused my vision on people in my circle, or people who have lost their sense of home.” In this YUNG Selects, Iraqi-Canadian educator, MC, multi-media artist, and Arab hip-hop pioneer Yassin ‘Narcy’ Alsalman has hand-picked a 10-track playlist that pays tribute to the hyphenated identity, to the music born out of the third-culture experience that comes with living outside of one’s ancestral homelands.
The beauty of the diasporic experience lies in the blending of cultures and the transcendence of borders, resulting in a resilient and innovative fusion. Diasporic artists can contextualize and bring forward music from a particular time and place into the present, while exploring the duality of their identities as third-culture kids through their music.
Narcy’s work as a rapper delves deep into themes of identity, the diaspora and social justice, drawing from his experiences as a second-generation Iraqi immigrant, masterfully blending news, history, and political analysis with the ever-evolving sounds and concepts emerging from the hip-hop community around the globe.
With multiple albums and heavyweight collaborations to his credit, Narcy has established himself as a trailblazer in the Arab hip-hop scene and a respected voice in the global hip-hop community. He has used his platform to address important social and political issues affecting marginalized communities, such as immigration, police brutality, and Islamophobia. Through his music, Narcy has been able to bring attention to these issues and spark meaningful conversations, while also celebrating the beauty and diversity of Arab culture in all its iterations.
This playlist is a kaleidoscope of sonic hues that refract the vibrant cultural prism of the Arab diaspora, capturing the pulsing heartbeat of the global musical movement. Like a musical journey that spans the globe, the playlist takes listeners on a ride that weaves together dreamy electronic beats, soulful R&B melodies, experimental hip-hop rhythms, and traditional Arabic music. With artists hailing from different corners of the world, each track is like a snapshot of the unique cultural experiences and perspectives that make up the Arab diaspora.
As the playlist unfolds, it showcases the breadth and depth of the Arab diaspora’s musical traditions, from the sultry and seductive R&B of Zeina’s “Consequences”, to the haunting and mystical soundscape of “The Burial” by Qi Yama, to the hypnotic beats and lush textures of “Tell Me, I’m Dreaming” by Saint Levant. “Meta World Peace” by Narcy, featuring Bu Kolthoum, Al Bara’em, and Thanks Joey, is a sonic tapestry that weaves together Arabic melodies, hypnotic beats, and razor-sharp rhymes. In contrast, “Astro Lab” by Omar Offendum feels like a contemplative journey through the stars, with its dreamy production, introspective lyrics, and cosmic themes.
Collectively, the playlist represents the boundless creativity and innovative spirit of the Arab diaspora, a musical movement that is transforming the global soundscape and redefining what it means to be a part of the global music community.
If these sounds from the diaspora have your ears twitching, check out our music coverage here.