Narcicyst: Mirror Music

Narcicyst is obsessed with himself. Maybe that’s because he’s one-of-a-kind, as it would seem. This Iraqi MC presently lives in Montreal, where he is finishing up college. After eight years of rhyming, Narcicyst began flipping classic records from Notorious B.I.G. and N.W.A., and incorporating circumstances of Iraq culture, in blunt detail. Released through mixtapes, the Montreal performer caught significant buzz with a variety of audiences.

Due to his unique qualities, a division of EMI Records reportedly offered the young MC a respectable deal. Based on principles, Narcicyst turned down the major. Though the rising star has shared mics with Kanye West and GLC, some could argue that the western world is not ready for an Iraqi MC. But as truth concerning the War in Iraq is a rare commodity, Hip-Hop may be one of the sole vehicles to get the facts straight. Read about Narcicyst’s background, his views on global issues, and his Hip-Hop, and see if you can join in on that self-obsession. Narcicyst, your name is defined as someone excessively fascinated by themselves – so no one else matters?

Narcicyst: In my witty youth, I chose that name due to what I was doing. At 17, 18, I was running around, ciphering and just staying up late talking s**t about how ill we were. The embodiment of every MC is self-knowledge. Every MC speaks of his or her experience and the delivery and presence is so self-involved when written, spit and recorded. But since then I have found so many names, it’s hard to hold on to any of them. Anyone that is comfortable in their own skin and confident come off as arrogant in the reflection of being a ‘celebrity.’ So f**k it, I am one if, it comes down to that. Iraqi rappers aren’t very popular, are there others?

Narcicyst: I don’t think I’m the only one, worldwide. There are mad Arabs rockin’ s**t. From Cilvaringz, Eslam, The Philistines, The N.O.M.A.D.S., Excentrik, big brother Fred Wreck, IAM in France. We got sisters on the mic, cats in Palestine rockin’ spots like they know best. Yeah, I went on an Arabist rant there, but I think I might have been doing it the longest as an Iraqi. How long is that?

Narcicyst: I have been recording, doing shows and really going at it for about eight years now. I started when I was 16 out in the Middle East, and just kept it moving. What kinds of concepts do you do, on mixtapes and such?

Narcicyst: In the United Arab Emirates growing up, [I started] collecting CDs, instrumentals, coming back with whatever. I started making mixtapes for my people with personalized interludes and s**t. The present one I’m working on is Stuck Between Iraq and a Hard Place, new tracks I recorded when I did some international shows, as well as freestyles or [parodies] written to tracks I was raised on. I flipped the “Ten Crack Commandments” and did “Ten Iraq Commandments.” I took “Straight Outta Compton” and did “Straight Outta Basrah.” Who’s buying them?

Narcicyst: I have had phenomenal response where I’ve had to reprint. Last dude that copped it was an American soldier at a base somewhere in the States. I believe the pertinence of Iraq right now and the fact that we have Arabs worldwide now that grew up just like I did has scattered my fanbase. It’s just visibility. What label wants to f**k with Iraqi Hip-Hop? I think it’s harder to show that you are a positive individual to eyes that are shut at the word ‘Iraqi.’ It gives me the opportunity to show we can build bridges with Hip-Hop, even if he disagrees, at least he listened. Being Iraqi, break through the b.s., and explain the war…

Narcicyst: All that came from this war is pain. I mean, for the Iraqis around me, those who are not in Iraq, as well as my cousins that came back from there this year, it’s just heinous man. To destroy someone’s culture and land successively through almost 15 years of sponsored war is unfathomable. This was just a continuation of a mess that was supposed to be cleared up years ago, that unraveled as complete chaos and disorder. Saddam and America go together like “sheesha” and the chronic. News channels give certain characters voices on television, put it all in a nice box and you got Hollywood; “Bombs Over Baghdad.” I feel a burning in my gut when I think of what my grandparents endured, and what my parents had to go through in their youth. But we have to look at the future with hope. All I can say is don’t believe the hype. EMI Records caught your buzz and wanted you to ink a contract. Why didn’t that happen?

Narcicyst: I didn’t sign with EMI Arabia because they wanted me to be more sensitive, make something more crossover. There is no crossing over when it comes to the reality of being who we are in this political environment. I’m not one to tell you, “Yo, look at those kids dying from war,” while I take my shirt off or pop a bottle on that ass. So I just said “Nah,” and kept doing my thing. Being based in Montreal, have you ever kicked it with DJ A-Trak or anybody?

Narcicyst: I met A-Trak once, when I opened for Non-Phixion out here. I actually met Kanye [West] back in the day when Talib Kweli came out with “Get By.” I opened up for him, and Kanye came by, I actually was talking to him not really realizing who he was till I was like, “Oh s**t.” He was really cool; him and GLC spit verses with us. Montreal has a great base of talent, A-Trak is the quintessential example of how far someone from here can take it. He definitely opened peoples eyes to Montreal, but people are still blinking. There is some crazy s**t brewing in this city. You’re a Canadian citizen, hypothetically if you were drafted to Iraq, would you go?

Narcicyst: I would have to pull a Muhammad Ali [and dodge the draft] because having the opportunity to go back home to be stripped by the “defense of freedom and my nationhood in North America” would be the most f**ked-up consequence of Immigration in history of mankind. I would rather go back to Iraq as a man returning to the land of his father to replant his roots, not a dead palm tree criogenetically engineered to help Iraqis breath its polluted oxygen. That is one deep ass riddle kane, locsta. Usually, people say their “greatest” is ‘Pac or B.I.G, but yours is Big Pun. How come?

Narcicyst: Physically, Lyrically, Hypothetically, Realistically, no one can f**k with Pun’s first album [Capital Punishment]. It knocks everything else out the square for me. But my greatest of all time, is Nas. From Illmactic to this moment, his verses are the ones I relate to and fiend for as a Hip-Hop junkie. Speaking of Nas, is Hip-Hop dead?

Narcicyst: Nas is right. I mean Hip-Hop, as he knows it, is definitely dead. The origins of the culture have been misplaced by the conglomerate powers of industry and mass culture - sex and violence. But I also think Nas is saying that it is time that Hip-Hop needs to come back. We have become so apathetic to our reality, we sometimes forget that we are alive but dying at the hands of rich bigots. Nas has always been on point, over people’s heads on point. If Saddam Hussein were an MC – who would he have been?

Narcicyst: Damn, you really got me in the corner here! I think if Saddam were an MC there would be several of him, there will be look-alikes and wannabes. We gotta keep in mind that Saddam is not a hero to me, puppetry has lead to the destruction of my culture. He’s too much of a control freak, I think he would be a manager or some thing. Saddam would be the cross between what happened to Vanilla Ice’s career and the ‘don’t half step me’ attitude of Suge Knight. How you feel seeing Saddam hanged after all he done?

Narcicyst: Saddam Hussein deserves to die without any dignity for all that he has caused in the hearts and lives of Iraqi men, women, and children. My aunt out there told me “this is not the right time,” but when has it ever been in Iraq? This was not the next step to democracy. There was no significant point but to satisfy those who have lost family to him. I know people who have, and they are closer to me than you can imagine, but even they know that this was just a symbol. It was so surreal for me too see Saddam drop and hang - that sounds like a southern dance move. I hope for peace, same s**t, different Saddam.