Bilal Shabib laments fraught journey to becoming a rapper in Jordan

Twenty-four-year-old Jordanian-Palestinian rapper and musician Bilal Shabib. (Photo: Handout from Bilal Shabib)
Twenty-four-year-old Jordanian-Palestinian rapper and musician Bilal Shabib. (Photo: Handout from Bilal Shabib)

AMMAN — Coming from a religious family — a recurring theme in his music — 24-year-old Jordanian-Palestinian rapper and musician Bilal Shabib grew up listening to Islamic A cappella songs (nasheed), and when he first listened to R&B and hip-hop, he found it “overwhelming”.اضافة اعلان

“About five years ago, I remember I was in Scotland, and I listened to Arabic rap and wanted to try writing a song, I think that is when my passion for doing music really started,” Shabib told Jordan News in a recent interview.

A friend later invited him to Turkey to record and produce songs properly. He stayed there for a while and launched five — now deleted — tracks.
“I didn’t even have a laptop back then,” the rapper recalled.

“After that, I could not grow; there were no resources for me to learn the skills needed, like how to mix and master the tracks for example, so when I came back to Jordan I stopped making music for two years,” Shabib said.

But in 2019, Shabib was back in the scene with his song “Aman,” which garnered some 290,0000 views on YouTube.

Although the musician does not make money off of his music, he does not see it as just a hobby. “I am trying to build myself, it takes time to start making a profit in the hip-hop industry, but I am hopeful that in the future all my efforts will pay off,” he added.

His music usually draws on his personal life “and things that I am going through that mostly resemble some sort of ‘pain,’” the artist added.
Some of his songs were inspired by past romantic relationships, such as “Aman” and “Onadeeha”.

To make a song, the artist usually begins with choosing the music. “I listen to random beats, and as soon as I like one I start humming along with the music, mumbling a few words, I freestyle the first couple of lines randomly then I write the rest of the song so that it can rhyme with these lines,” the rapper explained.

Some of Shabib’s favorite producers to work with include Damojanad, Mazz, Fakhri and Dahab, he noted.

Shabib’s family are not that keen on his music career, “and I think they have a point,” he says. “It is really hard being in this industry here because most of the time you have to do everything yourself, from recording the song to sound engineering and editing the music video — you are your own team, and your own manager,” Shabib explained.

In the Jordanian hip-hop scene in general, artists do not get a lot of support, Shabib believes, which is something that really upsets him.

“I wish certain companies would sponsor us, I remember when I first started I wished someone would help me make a music video for example, but like I said, you have to do everything on your own, I hope that will change at some point,” Shabib explained.

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