I was born and raised in D.C so, with the exception of the Washington Monument, I have pretty much been to every main museum, monument, building, street, or anything touristy; including the Kennedy Center. Before last week, the last time I was there was when I was like 10 to see some show with my parents that I barely remember. Since last week, I have been three times as part of the One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide festival and each time has been better than the last. I love hip-hop (duh) and I love when people who aren't as invested in the culture get to see what hip-hop is really all about. They might think it's cars and jewelry, but you and I know there is so much more to it. Hip-hop has become a global cultural force that gives anyone and everyone with something to say a shot to (hopefully) rattle the cage and change the way we look at some one or something a opportunity to say their peace and hopefully, make the world a better place. Nobody represents that better than last nights performer, The Narcicyst.
I was expecting to go, hear a few songs and that would be that, you know like a regular show; this was anything but. You know when you hear that artist and are hooked right from the start because you can tell they put their all into each and every aspect of their art? That happened last night. With just a mic, a DJ and some really unique visuals Narcicyst put on one of the most original and interesting shows I can remember. He made the whole thing more intimate and more personal by sharing stories from his past, giving advice on being an artist and most importantly showing how global hip-hop has become with an emphasis on the Middle East. The key to a live show is connecting with he audience and last night The Narcicyst did just that and did it in a way I have never seen before. Highlights of the show (
) included him freestyling using random objects in the crowd, an array of stunning visuals to match each powerful song, and my favorite (as a fellow asthmatic) the performance of "My Asthmatic Lover"
Silly me, I got so caught up in the concert,I forgot to let you know who exactly The Narcicyst is. An Iraqi-Canadian emcee, actor, and writer, Narcicyst uses his diverse background and education (he has a damn Masters degree!) to create dope yet enlightened and powerful hip-hop. Thanks to a few classes in high school and college I have always had a interest in the Middle East. Admittedly, like most of the world, I really don't know enough about it, especially when you consider how pivotal that area of the world is in shaping the political landscape. That is why the The Narcicyst is so important. He serves as a great ambassador to the Middle East by introducing the culture and the politics in a manner which you can both enjoy and learn from. I can't think of a better way to show people the real Middle Eastern culture than through hip-hop. No matter where someone is from or what they believe in, we can all feel a beat or get goosebumps from that special line. His music isn't preachy or uber-political but it contains elements of Middle Eastern culture (samples, language, politics), that celebrate the culture and let you know it is a big part of who he is. The Middle East and America are often pitted against each other and shown as polar opposites, but the way Narcicyst uses a western tool (hip-hop) and blends it with Middle Eastern influences shows that the two cultures can go hand-in-hand. There aren't too many Middle Eastern representatives in hip-hop, but The Narcicyst certainly is a good one to have.
DC is a big tourist town, and the Kennedy Center is no exception; you can't through a room with out seeing droves of kids on school trips and people with cameras and florescent D.C shirts. As Narcicyst gave some gave some inspiring words of wisdom to a school trip who just happened to stumble into this show it occurred to me that this festival is probably opening the eyes of a lot of causal observers who might not think hip-hop belongs at the Kennedy Center. Then I thought well, if they are going to get exposed to hip-hop, I'm glad it's through someone like The Narcicyst. Hip-hop has such a strong, vibrant culture and I can't think of anyone who represents that better than an Iraq-Canadian, asthmatic emcee who rocks traditional Middle Eastern garb and a 1991 Bulls Championship hat. That my friends is hip-hop.
P.S. He even has some RefinedHype ties too. His manage Amir A.K.A
is a good friend of DJbooth/RefinedHype and