Illiam, rappers share difficulties they faced due to COVID-19

Rapper Illiam preforming in his concert on Thursday, November 11, 2021. (Photo: Handout from Illiam)
AMMAN — After the ease of COVID-19 lockdowns and public health measures, many local musicians are trying to make up for what they missed; rapper Ahmed Haroon, also known as "Illiam” was able to return to Jordan and hold a live concert recently. اضافة اعلان

Illiam is a name that carries many meanings, and according to the rapper, the most important element of the name is that it attempts “to Arabize the word alien.”

The rapper studied filmmaking and shared that it played a significant role in the music he makes today. However, he took rap and music as a full-time job and left filmmaking to devote himself entirely to what he loves.

Rapper Illiam preforming in his concert on Thursday, November 11, 2021. (Photo: Handout from Illiam)

What distinguishes Illiam in the rap scene is the words he uses in his tracks because they usually carry more than one meaning and can be interpreted in different ways. "In the rap world, this is what's called wordplay," he said and added that he also refrains from adding too many effects that could alter his music.

Regarding Illiam's return to Jordan from Qatar, where he lives, he performed a concert on Thursday, November 11, alongside rapper Dodix and rapper Shbash. "I did not know how I would stand on stage after such a long period. Almost a year and a half of no live performances,” he said

Odai Omari, better known as Dodix, shared: "I never like to do my own concerts, but I don't refuse to be a guest at another rapper's concert, especially a friend like Illiam."

Rapper Dodix preforming in Illiam’s concert on Thursday, November 11, 2021. (Photo: Handout from Illiam)

In another interview with Bashar Saleh, a Palestinian-Jordanian rapper known as Shbash, he talked about the fact that rap music is not very common for the audience in Jordan in particular, so the turnout for these concerts is not great compared to the concerts of singers of other genres.

"Without concerts, it's hard for us to get income. Canceling previous concerts has been difficult and very frustrating. Especially since we were ready for the concert until the last night, so when we found out that it was canceled, we were really disappointed,” said Shbash.

As for the concert: "The atmosphere was wonderful, and the Amman audience surprised me with the extent of their awareness of this genre of music. I felt everyone's happiness, especially since they needed a breather because of the difficult conditions that everyone is going through,” he said.

During COVID-19, the rapper shared he was negatively financially impacted due to public safety measures halting live concerts. On the other hand, he also shared that the number of people who listened to his music increased. He credited this to the fact that a “majority of people are sitting at home doing nothing but looking for sources of entertainment, including rap.”

According to Illiam, his production of songs during COVID-19 was weak, and that was due to the lack of external experiences that he used as inspiration to write. Even with certain adaptations to the increasingly virtual reality, including online concerts, Illiam was hesitant to participate as he did not feel like they were useful.

Rapper Shbash preforming in Illiam’s concert on Thursday, November 11, 2021. (Photo: Handout from Illiam)

“I chose to let people miss me so that they would come to my live concerts after going through that difficult period,” he said.

Illiam recently released his EP — which was missing a final track yet to be released — the EP is called "Qingyang,” after a region in China whose people are subjected to various acts of violence.

"I'm very interested in East Asian culture, and I follow their news. Since I know there are probably only a few people who know what's going on in those areas, I decided to pass a message through this EP that will make listeners notice it and look for it,” he said.

He did this in an effort of spreading awareness by having people search for his album and then find out what is happening to the innocent people in China.

Illiam announced that there is an album he has been working on for two years and is distinguished by the fact that it has more Arabic music in it, specifically Arabic that he used to hear in his childhood.
He added that: "In the world of rap, there is something called ‘tambling’ which is to take a song and change its features to become something else. I tried to do this in my song ‘Lima La?’”

In this album, Illiam talks about his past life, family, and moving to Qatar. As for the collaborations in it, he mentioned that he worked on it with several rappers, including Al-Rawi, Dodix, Adan Wakeem, and Synaptik, as a few.

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