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Culture Warriors – Omar Musa

Omar often raps about his Malaysian heritage, especially about the challenges of coming from a mixed background, and trying to reconcile and balance his Australian and Malaysian sides.

The poem Omar will be performing is about his Malaysian grandma. The poem is about priorities and the gap between Omar’s privileged life and that of his ‘nenek’, as he fondly calls her.


Omar Musa
Rapped about his future and background

When one Google’s the name ‘Omar Musa’, the first search result to appear is the ‘Sito officiale di Omar Musa’: the official site of a well-defined and covered-in-oil Italian body builder. Although this may attract the interest of some, the following pages (and pages) of results are about another Omar Musa who is also having no difficulties commanding attention.

The Omar Musa I refer to is the young Australian-Malay hip hop artist from Queanbeyan (just across the A.C.T border).

In the past month alone, Omar has been soaking up media attention from The Australian, Triple J, The Canberra Times, and ABC Radio and Television.

The twenty-four-year-old is one of six creative Australians to win the British Council’s prestigious ‘Realise your Dream’ award. The main prize is a tailor-made work experience of their dreams in the United Kingdom. For Omar, this dream is to work with some of the best rappers and Hip Hop artists in the UK, including Dizzee Rascal and The Streets. So, this is exactly what he will be doing early next year.

But before he embarks the plane to London and on this once-in-a-life-time experience, Omar has a lot on his plate. In December he will head up the Hume Highway to perform at the Sydney Opera House when he competes in the grand final of Australia’s first national poetry slam.

The poem Omar will be performing is about his Malaysian grandma. The poem is about priorities and the gap between Omar’s privileged life and that of his ‘nenek’, as he fondly calls her.

Omar’s mother, as he describes as ‘country-girl Australian’, met his Malaysian father whilst they were both involved in the arts at a university in Penang, Malaysia. His parents then moved to Australia in 1980.

Omar often raps about his Malaysian heritage, especially about the challenges of coming from a mixed background, and trying to reconcile and balance his Australian and Malaysian sides.

Omar understands that Australians who have migrated or whose parents have migrated from another country may feel a sense of dislocation, as though they do not fit into either of their cultures. However, he feels blessed that he can go in-between the cultures, and has the capability to build cultural bridges.

“I’m really proud of my Malay side,” he said. “I speak some Malay, I eat Malay food at home, I wear sarongs, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be Aussie.”

Omar has used this perspective and cultural insight in a number of his rap pieces, including what he considers to be his biggest achievement. Omar’s song about the Cronulla Riots which featured on the compilation ‘Open Your Eyes’ and also played on Triple J, was written from the perspective of an Australian Muslim. His song was a call for unity and balance at a time when the Australian community was quite polarised.

The song was getting out the message that “summer has one colour, and it’s blue sky”. Omar is a strong believer that no matter where a person comes from, all Australians can partake in the same ideals.

This song provided Omar with the opportunity to share his talents with Indigenous children in the remote community of Aurukun, in far North Queensland. For Omar, this was an eye-opening experience which he found simultaneously disillusioning and inspiring.

Whilst he acknowledges that Hip Hop is not everything, he says through cultural activities such as this, a lot of changes can be made within Aboriginal communities. In his time in Aurukun, he could see the children develop a ‘sense of self-worth’ and their love for learning how to rap and write songs.

Omar sees Hip Hop as a cultural barrier-breaker with its poetic ability to “edu-tain”, because it is entertaining but can also have a strong message.

He is using his talent to express his concerns about the rising conservatism in Australian politics; especially in regards to Australia’s backward steps in immigration policy.

Omar’s words are being heard, and he is quickly becoming a wanted man because of them.

The National Gallery of Australia has commissioned him to arrange a Hip Hop concert called ‘Culture Warriors’ to coincide with the Indigenous Triangle in February. He is also performing several gigs around Australia, as well as planning a trip to Malaysia this month before the release of his album.

“I’ve been envisioning all this stuff for many years,” he said. “And after slaving away writing raps, it’s paying off now.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

🙂

Article from FECCA link

http://www.fecca.org.au/OandA_200711_01.cfm

GM: Sorrylah lama tak update, was on vacation to Mt. Kinabalu and the Islands of KK.

Attention En Omar Musa (as the above) , please contact GM, need to have an interview with you..

Filed under: Diaspora Malay, Steady!,

2 Responses

  1. Omar Musa says:

    cool. send me an email!

  2. anupo Le Faucheur says:

    Hello Omar,

    I have just returned from a holiday in Ubud and was lucky enough be at the Poetry Slam night at Casa Pasta.

    Loved it all and especially loved hearing/feeling your perspective on life and your compassion and humour. The one about your “nenek” was especially moving.

    Thankyou.

    Anupo

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