Doha’s next hip hop star
With his song ‘Put it On’ Omar El-Zoheery brings a hip hop edge to Qatar Discuss this article
It’s slightly disconcerting to be listening to QBS and suddenly hear lyrics about Doha. Used to hearing songs about New York, Miami, London and other cities, hearing about cruising the Corniche before hitting Crystal or heading out to Sealine is refreshing. While Qatar’s had other musicians come from its shores, this may be the first time someone has started making waves in this particular direction. Is Trak Qatar’s first hip hop star? Maybe. We catch up with him to find out how that happened.
How did you get started?
I got started through poetry, I was around 12 when I started growing fond of it, and the idea of putting words together in a certain manner to evoke a feeling fascinated me. I began writing at first. With poetry in one hand and hip hop in the other, being the first genre of music I ever listened to. It was a perfect match. The music, the words, the feeling… I fell in love. It was a unique way to express myself.
You grew up in Qatar right?
Originally I was born in Qatar, but I am from Egypt. Over the course of my life I’ve lived in Egypt, Japan and Qatar.
What inspired you to start?
The groove and the feeling of peace I get from music is something I cherish until this day. I wanted to be able to provide the same feeling of harmony and release for others, just like music did for me. To be able to give someone the feeling that s/he needed to dance, smile, cry, or get lost in thought. As an artist my main goal is to relate experiences and evoke emotion.
Sounds, words, landscapes, art and media, interactions… all these things are inspirations in some way. I take what I can and use that to create something new that represents me.
Hip Hop pushed me do something with my life. And that doesn’t mean it had to be music related, but to go out and just do something to benefit yourself and possibly others is a large motivating factor.
So how, exactly, did you start? A lot of people love music: but how did you end up actually doing something about it?
By the age of 16, I started taking rapping and hip hop more seriously. I didn’t know where to start; all I knew was that I had to create music. So I did, with a pathetic excuse of a laptop and most likely the cheapest microphone the world could offer, wrapped in tissue paper to help filter the vocals. I went at it. With time I grew, progressed, improved, and now here I am.
So let’s talk about ‘Put it On’, your song about Doha!
I usually create songs influenced by my life, the decisions I make and what I feel. Since Doha is my hometown I have a lot of memories in this city, which was portrayed in ‘Put It On’. However, I wasn’t necessarily singing only about Doha. I was talking about a collective group of moments and memories that happened in this city. I felt that song was a chance to express my representation of Doha and the experiences I’ve lived within it.
What sort of response have you had in Qatar?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a good response in Qatar. I’ve had quite a strong local support group, which I certainly appreciate. I’ve been able to do shows as well as open for some major artists, get radio play, and release two official mix tapes so far. My favorite part of the response is when someone sends me a message or something and tells me they appreciate what I do, or that my work has inspired or moved them in some way. That’s the best reward anyone could get.
What about outside of Doha—any response?
I’ve been fortunate to have a significant response outside of Doha as well. I dream of having a much larger future in the international music scene as I strive to expand my musicality and influence, which is something my manager and I work hard to collaborate and deliver. I’ve had the pleasure of doing music in Lebanon, Egypt, and the United States, which has been an incredible experience. I’m always open to working with other artists and exploring new avenues and ways to create and shape music.
What makes what you do unique or different?
The most challenging question of all, right? I guess we’re all unique and different in various ways. Like I said earlier I find inspiration in various subjects that end up manifesting themselves within my music. The way I convey the message of a song is unique because the intent is delivered through my music. Lyrics are important, yes, but to me all of the elements from the pinnacle of inspiration have to flow together to create the final product. I like stepping out the “hip hop” genre, and doing different kinds of styles of music as well. I love the fact that I can be 100 per cent honest and just say what I really think and feel. No regrets, no restrictions. And that’s my ultimate freedom.
What’s challenging about what you do?
Well from a musical perspective, making everything fit together seamlessly- whether I’m writing or creating the music, or producing the record- sometimes each individually takes up a lot of time and sometimes it just happens naturally. On the other hand, due to the lack of musical infrastructure in this country, marketing your music, branding, and getting exposure becomes a very difficult task. There are not a lot of opportunities an artist here can receive; however, they are strictly independently made. There are no major record labels, limited local radio support, few recording studios with proper equipment, a lack of producers and the list just goes on. So the biggest challenge is overcoming all of these obstacles, which other artists with the network and availability may take for granted.
What’s your guilty pleasure track: the song on your iPod you’re slightly embarrassed about?
I’m a Barbie girl? [laughs]. No, for real like, that’s a really tough question; I love everything on my iPod so I don’t feel like I would be embarrassed about any. But if I absolutely had to choose a song that I’ve been listening to nonstop since it’s been released, it has to be ‘Super Rich Kids’ by Frank Ocean. What an incredible artist.
Check him out on Twitter, Facebook and www.trakonlinemusic.com for preformance and release dates.
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