I’ve known this moment was coming for months now but I still can’t believe that this week our main ‘Man in the Mirror’, The Narcicyst, will be leaving Montreal to start a new chapter of his life in the Emirates. For the past 12 years, Yassin Alsalman has been giving his heart and soul to this city in so many ways. You may have feel in love with his intellect, story and rap steez back in 2003 when Euphrates (The Narcicyst, Nofy Fannan & Sandhill) dropped their debut album A Bend in The River or was it the follow up Stereotypes Incorporated that you felt particularly connected too.
Personally, cause of my tender age, I joined the Narcy experience around 2007 when Nomadic Massive dropped Nomad’s Land. That album was the first album to ever make me care about lyrics, prior to this I only really cared for kick, snare and nice melodies. Narcy, as well as the other nomads, has such a strong crisp way of rapping that message hits you hard whether or not your mind is open to it. Within a week I was rapping along to every track and even though I had yet to see a live rendition of the Grandmaster Narcel, I was following his career with a zoom lens. By then he had already dropped 3 other highly significant albums; Stuck between Iraq and a hard place vol.1 (2004), Stuck between Iraq and a hard place vol.2 (2006), and The Arab Summit, Fear of an Arab Planet (2006). The latter being one of my personal favs.
But beyond the amazing music that was being created, many of us had no clue that Yassin was sharpening his intellectual sword so that he could further share his knowledge. With a BA in Political Science and Communication Studies already in his pocket, Yassin started tackling his Master’s Thesis in Media Studies at Concordia University, which later became his first publication The Diatribes of A Dying Tribe (2011). With so much on-field experience and a strong educational back bone it only made sense for Yassin to begin co-teaching (along side Marc Peters) the first university accredited Hip Hop class in Montreal (probably in all of Quebec too), offered at Concordia University. I had sampled one of his lectures a few semesters back and already knew that taking this class would open mind to much grander pastures. Last semester after being on the waiting list 3 times I finally got to know the Man in the Mirror as a professor who quickly became a great friend. What we learned and experienced in that classroom was much more than Hip Hop History 101, it was about how to use your mind, how to be critical, how to question things you love or do and how to not fall for the imaginary human limitations you’ve created for yourself. Marc and Yassin really sparked that Do-for-Self attitude in us whether you were a trueborn Hip Hop Head or just a student looking an easy 3 credits. They managed to teach us the essence of Hip Hop and encourage us to use that strength for our own endeavors and for that I am eternally grateful.
If we back track to what was going on in his artistic career we fall onto Stuck between Iraq and Hard Place vol.3 (2009) and the amazing instrumental masterpiece Warchestra: The Symphony, which he produced in collaboration with his wonderful partner in life Sundus Abdul Hadi as the complimentary album to her art collection Warchestra. 2009 also happened to be the year his most revered album The Narcicyst dropped with a posse of insanely epic videos such as the one for P.H.A.T.W.A and Hamdulillah. Of course, as a born asthmatic I truly do know the meaning of ‘every breath counts’ and felt a hyper connection to his mixtape Mr. Asthmatic (2010).
Now in 2011 when we North Americans were becoming aware of the Arab Spring, which was years in the making fyi, it was a real blessing to able to have such strong advocate of Arab culture in our own city to counteract the contrived information we were receiving. The #Jan25 video gave a new voice to the Arabic diaspora, which is always so desperately needed. The follow up project to that whole experience, Arab Winter (Sundus Abdul Hadi, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Sawson Al Saraf, El Seed, Karim Jabbari and Yassin Alsalman) is the most profound and beautiful multimedia exposition I have ever seen and Narcy’s video/track Fly Over Egypt is still hands down my favorite piece of 2012.
As you can see the list of contributions that this one man has made to the world could go on and on, and I haven’t even started taking about his acting career, leadership skills or style. The Narcicyst has been an extremely important pillar in the Hip Hop scene of Montreal for the past decade+ and I have great faith that he will continue to be so even while residing in the Emirates.
If you have yet to experience The Narcicyst live in Montreal you still have one more chance this Wednesday night at the Bell Groove stage for the Montreal Jazz Festival at 10 pm SHARP!! (Seriously, the jazz fest don’t play). For all you who already know his amazingness I doubt that I need to convince you to make it out but let’s just say I’m excited to be with you all on Wednesday to celebrate 10years+ of collective Narcissism. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Man in the Mirror over the past few years is that he’s only a Narcicyst because he carries a piece of each of us in his soul and that kind of pride can only come out as Narcissism.
Narcy Beaucoup Yassin!
We look forward to more of you wherever you are.
Ce n’est qu’un Au Revoir.
Proof that this man loves us back: