Omar Offendum, Hip-Hop and the Arab Spring

BY Paul Solman and Elizabeth Shell  November 4, 2011 at 11:05 AM EDT

Born in Saudi Arabia to Syrian parents and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, hip-hop artist Omar Offendum uses his lyrical talents to bridge his Middle Eastern roots to his Western upbringing.

That Offendum has gained fans during the Arab Spring is no coincidence. His songs, often political, resonate with Arab youths, many of whom have embraced one of America’s most popular forms of protest music: hip-hop.

He earned lots of attention earlier this year for his collaboration with both Arab and African-American hip-hop artists, “#Jan25,” a song dedicated to the protestors who filled Tahrir Square in Cairo during the uprisings. The song quickly went viral.

Offendum began his rap career as one-half of the N.O.M.A.D.S., an Arab/African-American hip-hop duo. He’s worked on a number of projects, including the “FREE-THE-P” mix-tape, which was a fundraising effort for Palestinians, and a performance/lecture, “Brooklyn Beats 2 Beirut Streets.” In 2010, he released his first solo album, “SyrianamericanA.”

He recently visited our newsroom to talk about his work:


A transcript will be posted soon.
 

Here’s the music video for “#Jan25”: