Omar Offendum (real name is Omar Chakaki) is a Syrian-American Hip-Hop Artist and Producer, born in Saudi Arabia and raised in the USA. He began his musical career as half of the Arabic American Hip-Hop group N.O.M.A.D.S. The internationally produced “SyrianamericanA”--his debut solo album --is a perfectly balanced musical clash of cultures with both English and Arabic lyrics. Offendum broaches everything from history to politics to love and delivers it with catchy, poetic wordplay.
***1. “Damascus” translates Arab poet Nizar Qabani's “Al-Qaseeda Al-Dimishqiya,” and turns it into a powerful rap song creating images of Damascus in our mind.
***2. “Destiny” is a bi-lingual track with beautiful lyrics, picked to be a single and the first official music video for the album
3. “Hustle On” begins with old news clip about Damascus that interweaves into a simple beat rap about the ‘hustles’ of the city
4. “DC Guide” is an energetic track with groovy bass lines.
5. “Straight Street” is a soulful, solid track with tight snares.
6. “Majnoon Layla’ is an adaptation of a treasured Middle Eastern story of a woman named Crazy Layla and a tale of forbidden love.
7. “Superhero” is a hopeful rap that says it all with the line “Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an Arab superhero and he came to bring change”.
8. “Father’s Day” is a haunting song about the struggles of Arabs and Offendum wonders if they will continue when he is a father.
9. “The Arab Speaks of Rivers” In this track, Offendum successfully arabifies a Langston Hughes poem.
10. “Mother’s Day” is an infectiously bouncy track where Offendum skillfully weaves (samples) in an old Asmahan song.
***11. “Finjan” tastefully morphs a poem by Nizar Qabani (one of the Arab world’s greatest modern poets) into a Hip-Hop version. Offendum recites the original verses/lyrics in Arabic at the beginning then goes into his own English translation. Song was originally recorded by Abdul Halim Hafez in the 70s.
12. “New Orient” This powerful, strong track samples the song “Feeling Good”.
***13. “SyrianamericanA” An optimistic and upbeat track which talks of a mystical place called SyrianamericanA. The track tastefully samples an old news track in the beginning.
***My picks: 1, 2, 11, 13