When we think of Saudi’s hip-hop scene, we think of names like Saud G and Ahmedoo Biggie, BLVXB or even Qusai. One name daring to do things a little differently is the rising NASHMI, a musically fluid, Jeddah-based artist who had previously released music under the moniker, Jai Nash.
How, to call him a rapper or even a rap artist would be doing him a disservice. While we’ve seen him operate in more familiar trap sounds in the likes of May-released single, 'Sunflower', tracks like 2019’s ‘Model’, showed that he’s more than happy to step out of his comfort zone - as he seemingly has with new single, ‘Heathen’, his latest release on progressive Saudi label, Wall of Sound.
While his monotone, droning delivery cements this as a rap song, there’s too much going on to simply call it that. His flow is not that of your garden variety rap - it’s unpredictable and drives the song, instead of the beat driving it. Oh and what of the beat? Well, think 80s TV show meets Kraftwerk on a sunny day, coated in an ever-so-slight coat of minimal new-wave pop.
The lyrics and heart of the song sees NASHMI embrace his own sense of oddness, but it also strikes deeper for the artist.
“‘Heathen’ is a realisation of how society might perceive me as a character, the outcast, the odd one out,” he explains of the track. “How different and unique I try to be and how it comes with a lot of criticism and hate. How people try to tell me what's right and wrong to fit me within their views on life and how that lack of acceptance might affect me.”
Ultimately, though, one can’t help feeling a sense of defiance - he isn’t hiding the ugly duckling syndrome, as it were, and if that side of his personality can translate musically as ‘Heathen’ has, then we have one unique ‘rapper’ on our hands.