Friday, December 18, 2009

"3iiish Day 2009"

I am officially 10220 days young today ... feeling blessed, inspired, & loved ... al7amdullilah - all praises due to the most HIGH!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"DTFF | 2009"

Earlier this month I was flown out to Qatar to perform at the first ever Doha Tribeca Film Festival - a joint partnership between the Qatar Museum Authority & Robert Deniro's world-famous Tribeca Film Festival. From start to finish - executive director to youngest intern - the organizers of this fabulous event did an incredible job putting every aspect of it together. I had a blast meeting Hollywood A-listers, mingling with the rising stars of Arab cinema, & reconnecting with many old friends who now call this booming Gulf city their home. Thanks to some wasta-connects on the staff who put in the recommendation, & a few Youtube clips which helped seal the deal, I was given the opportunity to do my Hip-Hop thing in front of hundreds of new faces at The W Hotel in Doha - one of my favorite hospitality chains & the very first in the Middle East!

Martin Scorcese delivered a speech at the intro luncheon ... I got a kick out of the arabic translator (standing to his left), whom rather than simply relay his sentiments in another language, took it upon herself to literally translate everything he said word for word - including all references to himself ... meaning, she would grab the mic after every other sentence and say "I Martin Scorcese am ... etc."

Sir Ben Kingsley (Ghandi!) answered some questions for a local journalist after lunch ... Apparently he & Scorcese had the same tailor - he just preferred a sim fit?

Legendary Egyptian comedic actor 3adel Imam strolled down the "red carpet" at the opening gala ... just seeing him made me crack up ... the look on his face was classic!

Fireworks lit up the sky behind the Museum of Islamic Art - designed by the one & only I. M. Pei ... The courtyard in this photo was modeled after the historic Ibn-Toloun mosque in Cairo, and provided a stunning backdrop (foredrop?) for the beautiful pyrotechnics display that evening.

On the second night of the festival, Maysoon Zayid & Dean Obeidallah did their side-splitting comedy thing on stage just before my performance (Spice Market Restaurant @ The W Hotel ) ... No better way to start the show than with two of Arab-America's funniest comics killin it for the Qatari crowd!

On the other side of the restaurant, my stage was set up between DJ Sam's (Doha's finest) turntables & the enormous open bar ... Took a few songs to warm folks up (& draw their attention away from the free booze), but once I did - it quickly became a night to remember. Shout-outs to the coolest Soori in Doha, Omar Chaikhouni in the corner of this pic ;)

"Throw ya hands in the airrr & wave em all around like you just dont carrre" ... Told you I got their attention ;)

The next evening I attended an open-air screening @ Souq Waqif of the 1969 Egyptian film "Al Momia" (The Mummy) - digitally remastered by Martin Scorcese's World Cinema Foundation. While many of the people in attendance fell asleep under the peaceful night sky, I was captivated by the struggle this film portrayed - does the protagonist allow the "effendiyah / city-people" (sound familiar?) to take the ancient sarcophagi of his ancestors ... or let his fellow tribesman rob & loot them to no end? ... I can understand why this is one of Marty's favorite flicks =)

During the last day of the DTFF, following a screening of the "Team Qatar " documentary, I was asked to participate in a mock-debate with Maysoon Zayid. We each had two local high-schoolers on our team leading the way & Dean Obeidallah served as the moderator. While the debaters on the other squad were certainly formidable opponents, they ultimately proved no match for my team (ain't that right Mr. Hubrack?) =P

On closing night, following an outdoor screening/premiere of "Cairo Time", the boys from DAM came through to rock the mic - representing for Lod & all of Palestine ... Since I recently recorded a track with Suhell about the Gaza massacre, he asked me to join him on stage to kick my verse ... I've had the good fortune of performing with these brothers several times over the past couple of years during their US tours & I can honestly say they get better & better every single time!

I had some final after-party fun with two of the best young Arab directors in the industry, Amin Matalqa (Jordan) & Ali Mostafa (UAE) ... Keep an eye out for their work on a silver screen near you!

One of my personal highlights of the festival was getting to know the beautiful & incredibly talented Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass ... Her role in the the DTFF Grand Prize Winning film "Pomegranates & Myrrh" (written/directed by the lovely Miss Najwa Najjar) was absolutely spellbinding ... She was funny, sharp, smart, strong, & caring - true to the character of most Falasteeni women I know!

Thanks again to all the hard-working folks at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival who made this first event such a success - looking forward to many more insha'Allah!

3iiish Movies!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Upon departing from Beirut last month, I made my way to Dubai, the Arabian-Gulf city of life that inspired one of my previous posts.

Thanks to the hard-working folks at The Baraka Group & Showtime Arabia, I was given the opportunity to showcase my latest tracks and poetic musings at a venue called SHELTER in Al-Qouz (a warehouse district). This place is really unique in that it "is a first of its kind community workspace that allows individuals from various creative disciplines to engage in an environment that nurtures entrepreneurial small businesses." Since it isn't a typical club venue that serves alcohol, my beloved niece and nephew were able to invite their high-school friends to watch Khalo Offendum rock the mic in their hometown - without having to lie to their parents about where they were going (ain't that right Tala ;) ... Furthermore, it serves food/coffee from one of the best restaurants in the city, mOre cafe' ... so you know my fat-a**  was happy!

The show itself consisted of an opening performance by up and coming Indian comedian Nitin Mirani - whose hilariously relevant jokes and impersonations of the various accents found in this Middle Eastern melting pot were the perfect intro to my 1-hour set ... Given the number of Arab expats and International citizens in attendance, the global perspective I've been pushing with the material on SyrianamericanA was well-received ... 

This event was subsequently covered by Dubai One TV and Showtime Arabia's "Show Me More" - all you FB heads can peep the latter interview here: 

I also premiered my OFFENDUM logo design at this event, a new take on the classic evil-eye that I hold so dear - where two of them meet to form an "OO" that serve as both my initials and an homage to the turn-tables that make what I do possible at each and every show ... This was projected on the wall, flat screen TVs, and printed on some really cool T-Shirts that a few lucky customers got to take home that night ... In the photo below is my good friend Ernst van der Poll, whom you may remember from an earlier post I put up back in April about the local youth diving initiative known as Tawasul ...

In retrospect I realize that these shirts are perhaps not the most flattering for women to wear, so I will make it a point to design a line with a smaller logo print in the middle of the shirt =P

A few nights before I left the Emirates I also had a chance to to do a special 2-hour radio interview on DUBAI EYE - 103.8 (thanks Yara!) ... I gave listeners a taste of what to expect on the solo record, and answered some interesting questions that ranged from: 

"When are you gonna do a show in Abu Dhabi?" 

to ... 

"Why are you doing this, music is 7aram!?"

Just before departing from DXB I stopped by the duty-free music store to browse the latest Middle Eastern music releases and stumbled upon a pleasant surprise ... 

Shout-outs to Fred Wreck, Shadia Mansour, Don Legend, Murder Eyez, Rojeh, DAM, and of course the one and only - MC Amiiiiiin (ta7ya il-gumhooriyah ... il-3arabiyah ... il-Masriyah ... 100/100 ;)

3iiish CDs

Monday, November 23, 2009

"YAAA Conference"

Last month I was given the honor of presenting my music / poetry at the closing ceremony of the Yale Arab Alumni Association Conference on Urban Sustainability (October 2 - 3) at The American University of Beirut. This was a ground-breaking event in that the organizers were able to bring together some of the best & brightest from academic, architectural, entrepreneurial, environmental, & cultural circles to debate the future of the Middle Eastern city in its many forms. Each of the panel discussions were inspiring in their own way, leaving everyone who attended with a renewed sense of appreciation for where they were from, where they lived, &/or where they wanted the Arab world to be ... and what better place to host such a significant conference than the fabulous city of Beirut - where history, modernity, culture, & innovation converge in a uniquely Middle Eastern / Mediterranean way.

I may be bias, but the panel on education was of particular relevance in my opinion, since it directly addressed the future of the Arab city & how to best prepare the MENA youth for the challenges that lie ahead (remember - upwards of %60 of the population in the Arab world is under 30) ... and it featured one of the star panelists of the event - a man who was recently named one of the 500 most influential Muslims on the planet - my brother, Mohamad Abdullatif Chakaki.

My show was at a lovely little restaurant on Rue Makdissi called Walimat Wardeh - an old Lebanese house turned restaurant/pub ... A couple hundred friends/fans packed the smoke-filled, humid space as I did my thing on the mic - covering a range of topics that I felt represented the inter-disciplinary goals of the YAAA Conference.

Lea Hakim, one of the dedicated conference organizers, had this to say about my show:

"It was an honor to have the privilege of your performance in the conference party at Walimat Wardeh. Your performance and the vibe that night were electric!"

Electric ... maybe thats why they call me Ohmz =P

When I was done, I slowly slipped out of the restaurant & walked over to a shawerma spot on Rue Hamra to fill my empty belly ... Pita bread, garlic mayo, pickles, & tender slices of marinated/roasted chicken to be exact ...

Prior to leaving Beirut, I made sure to indulge in one of the most amazing culinary experiences in the city - Mayrig Restuaruant in Jemmayzeh - if you don't know, you better ask somebody ... This Armenian establishment is top-notch, & is just one more reason to love Lebanon & its diverse blend of culture/cuisine. All the dishes are prepared to perfection, & presented in small portions that are shared throughout the table - salads, fattehs, kibbehs, kiftehs, soujouks, & kebabs ... Two of my favorite dishes there are the rice kibbeh (kibbeh prepared with rice instead of bourghul), and the cherry kabob (sweet/savory gooey goodness) ... To top it all off this ice-cream lover got to taste 4 unique twists on the classic desert - marzipan, rose petal, halawah/halvah, & karawyeh (again, if you don't know - you better ask somebody!) ...

3iiish Feast!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Ramadan Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar)"

Ramadan Mubarak - from my President to yours ...

3iiish Fast!!!

"Summer 2009 - Recap"

I've had quite a busy summer - so much so that I haven't gotten around to typing up a single blog post in over 2 months ... Friends got married, families reunited, concerts were attended, and heros passed away ... Please accept this modest multi-media recapitulation of some of the more interesting events that took place during my digital absence >>

Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009):

The very first concert I ever attended was Michael Jackson on his world-famous BAD tour ... My mom often recalls how I lit up our nose-bleed seats with dance fever - rocking a shiny silver jacket with my little Syrian fro - just trying to shine like Michael ...

The other two memories I have of that night: 

1) Charles Mann (Washington Redskins) sitting a few rows behind us with his family!

2) My brother Mo falling asleep during the loudest song of the night ... Dirty Diana!

Michael - may you rest in eternal peace knowing your music lives on forever ... 


Rock The Bells @ Merriweather Post Pavilion - July 12, 2009:

For the second year in a row, Mr.Tibbz & I attended the ROCK THE BELLS concert at the Merriweather Post Pavillion, one of the greatest outdoor venues in the United States - designed by the one & only Frank Gehry ... This was an unforgettable concert featuring some of the greatest hip-hop acts of our time - including Nas, The Roots, Common, Kweli + Hi Tek, Big Boi, M.O.P., & K'Naan ... Unfortunately, Damian Marley (one of my favorite live performers) was a no-show, but all the other acts certainly held it down - especially The Roots ... Besides, I eventually got my "outdoor reggae concert fix" later on in the summer ...

6-Year anniversary at OTJ Architects:

Since graduating from the UVA School of Architecure in '03, I have been working for the same DC-based firm - OTJ Architects ... When I first started 6 years ago, we were comprised of 18 design professionals split into two teams (Commercial / Government) in a small Georgetown townhouse ... Since then, we have grown to over 45 employees in four design studios, won several AIA & IIDA Awards, worked on several major LEED projects in Washington DC, & purchased our own office building Downtown - the only architecture firm in the area to have done so ... Needless to say I am proud of our firm & the work we do ...

Funny thing about our building - it used to be home to the legendary local hotspot "The Zei Club" ... I vaguely remember trying to sneak in there when I was younger & not getting in ... 

Northeast Road Trip - NYC / Bronx:

I accompanied my sister & her kids to NYC so that my niece could check out some universities as she is now a senior in high-school ... This is the part where one normally complains about how old they are getting ... Not me - I'm closer in age to my niece than I am to my sister & I take every opportunity I can to remind her of that ... isn't that right Rammoush ;)

During the trip I spent a night at my friends' place in the Bronx & woke up to the sound of a rooster's crow ... in the Bronx ... a rooster ... crowing ... ?

Nationals Game (we beat the Mets!):

Mr.Tibbz scored some tickets to a Nats game from his (motha-f*ckin) job ... My first time at Nationals Stadium - I was very impressed ... Not only could you get a great view from pretty much anywhere, but they serve the one & only Ben's Chilli Dogs there ... if you dont know, you better ask somebody ... and to top it all off, we actually won - the second game in a row!?

Nomadic Wax Photo Shoot:

My buddies over at Nomadic Wax (international fair-trade hip-hop label & production studio) asked me to model some of their new fits for a photo-shoot they were doing in Washington DC ... So me & Waterflow of Wageble (Senegalese Hip-Hop crew) roamed through Adams Morgan & U Street ... Visual aid >>

Photos from this shoot went on to serve as my first appearance in Billboard Magazine (Sep 12 2009) - thanks of course to the good people of Nomadic Wax!

Indian Christian Orthodox Wedding:

If you've never been to one, you don't know what you're missing ... After a 1.5 hour Orthodox Church service on our feet, the newlyweds walked into their wedding reception to the sounds of Notorious B.I.G.'s "Hypnotize" ... followed by some banging Bhangra beats all night long ... 

Congratulations to Genvieve & Reggie!!!

Mixing the SYRIANAMERICANA album:

My first solo album has been in the works for quite some time now (2 years?) - but trust me, all good things come to those who wait ... It is currently being mixed in two places - Montreal's UrbanLab Studio & Southern California's ADVENT MP studio ... with production by SandhILL, Oddisee, CessLess, & yours truly - this record is "what your mama would want" you to listen to ... so stay tuned!

Filmed a New Music Video:

Laith Majali - great friend & amazing street photographer/filmmaker/editor extraordinaire - spent the summer in Los Angeles ... We took some time out of our not-so-busy schedules to film a video for a track called "Destiny" ... Its one of a handful of bi-lingual cuts on the album & deals quite literally with the idea of being torn between the "East & West" ... check out some stills from the video shoot on Laith's blog!!!

Reggae Fest @ The Hollywood Bowl - August 9, 2009:

As I said earlier, I eventually got my "outdoor reggae concert fix" by going to see Toots & the Maytals at the Hollywood Bowl, another one of the greatest outdoor venues in the United States ... 

I've lived right next to this venue for years & never went to a show ... 

I've suffered through miles of traffic for years because of this venue & never went to a show ... 

I've found it nearly impossible to park at some of my friends' places for years because of this venue & never went to a show ...

Now I know exactly why ... It's incredible ... 17,000 people can sit comfortably in the middle of the Hollywood Hills & watch some of the most amazing performers from every musical genre' do their thing ... and you can bring a cooler filled with pretty much anything you want inside ... what better way to watch a concert - let alone the legendary Toots & the Maytals ... and "when the sun sets - the fun starts", as the gentleman sitting next to me so accurately pointed out when we first got there ... big ups to Matt for taking the initiative on this one!

Joshua Tree National Park - August 23, 2009:

The homey Ragtop & I took a little road-trip, per our buddy Fahad's request ... He was visiting from London & said the only thing he absolutely HAD TO DO while in Los Angeles for two weeks was visit Joshua Tree National Park ... So we did ... and what a magnificent place it is ...

For those of you who aren't familiar with this place - or still think I am talking about a U2 record - please educate yourselves ... It is absolutely breathtaking - from the trees it is named after (Yucca brevifolia aka Joshua Tree) to the canyons & sci-fi rock formations of the Hidden Valley ... there is an undeniable energy in that part of the Mojave Desert ... and I am thankful that I was able to experience it ...

3iiish (Joshua) Trees!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"The Narcicyst"

"Some rappers have the gift of heightened intellect and understanding; others enjoy savant-like linguistic skills. Narcy may be blessed with the deadliest combination of the two that hip-hop has ever seen."

- Chris Faraone

My dear friend & partner-in-rhyme The Narcicyst - Iraqi-Canadian MC extraordinaire - just released his self-titled solo debut & is turning many heads ... The Boston Phoenix recently gave it 4/4 stars (He was robbed - it deserved 5!) ... This is hands-down the illest album of the year - and I'm not just saying that because Omar Offendum is the only other MC featured on it ... The beats bang, the lyrics inspire, & the overall mix is unlike any Hip-Hop record I have ever heard ...

For those of you who have yet to purchase your own copy - quit half-steppin & click here >>

3iiish Narce

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"What's Happening"

"We have a real Baqlawa treat for you today - to be culturally specific ..."

- May Alhassen (Doctoral Student @ USC)

No Shirley ... No Roger ... Just a bunch of 3arabs on this "Rerun" of What's Happening ...

Hosted by a Levantine version of Live with Regis & Kelly meets The View - Will Youmens, May Alhassen & co... Featuring yours truly performing my rendition of Nizar Qabbani's Al-Qaseeda Al-Dimashqiya - a track off my solo debut SyrianamericanA ... Followed by a collaborative performance with DC-based punk rock drummer Omar Bagnied ... The Egyptian Travis Barker ... Travis Abu-Bakr if you will ...

3iiish ... Sweets?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Pacific Plastic-Fantastic"

"We've changed the composition of ocean water almost a thousand miles from f*cking shore ... Where is it all coming from? ... Everywhere ... The world is plastic ... It's a plastic fantastic world ... Its our society ... Its our way of life"

The VBS.TV crew sets sail on a journey to discover what they initially believed to be a "Garbage Island" in the Pacific Ocean ... The sad reality that it is actually billions of particles of plastic broken down into different shapes & microscopic sizes over the years - completely transforming the chemical make-up of seawater - is what they were ultimately faced with ...

I selected this particular clip because it showcases another brilliantly disheartening way to use the term "plastic-fantastic" - but the other related videos on the page are definitely worth checking out as well ...

3iiish Seas ... Please ...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"The Street Called Straight"

"Rise and go to The Street Called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."

:: Layla Lounge :: Washington DC :: April 19, 2009 ::

3iiish Streeeeets

Monday, April 6, 2009


"Tawasul means reach out in Arabic. It aims to engage young people and students in grassroots conservation and restoration ecology."

Find more videos like this on Tawasul

Dubai has been getting a lot of attention recently ... A number of faultfinding articles written by architectural critics have popped up in the wake of it's recent financial decline ... While others have sought to give off the impression that the race is still on for it to be the number one economic & tourist destination in the MENA.

In a previous post I too shared my thoughts on this Emirate, with a specific focus on migrant labor exploitation in lieu of what I described as a "rapid, inorganic, contextless design" - something that many countries in the region have their fair share of.

At the same time I made a conscious effort to distance myself from the typical doomsayers by bringing up the fact that it has a unique ability to draw from cultures all over the world and create spaces where they can engage one another in fresh and exciting ways. One shining example of this is the extraordinary new initiative known as Tawasul - started by some very passionate diving instructors, environmentalists, & even a family member of mine.

As Ernst van der Poll explains in the video I've embedded above, it gives the young people of this ancient port city the opportunity to reengage the underwater world they are surrounded by in a more humble and inspiring way. Since pearl divers were some of the very first people to settle and make a living in Al-Wasl, this project literally brings Dubai back to its roots.

Tawasul‘s mission:
  • To cultivate environmental awareness and interest within the youth of the U.A.E in preserving the marine environment and its resources.
  • To deliver environmental education, sustainable lifestyle and responsible consumption workshops mobilising the diving community youth to participate in environmental conservation locally and internationally.
  • To promote corporate support for local schools thereby strengthening corporate commitment to the conservation of the marine environment.
  • To foster a collaborative spirit across cultures in raising awareness on the fragile nature of marine life and to set common conservation goals.
  • To apply techniques that preserve underwater life and cultural heritage.
  • To support research on environmentally sound approaches to interactions with the marine life on a recreational or commercial level.

3iiish Seas!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


"We are honored to partner with mokugift as part of the UNEP Billion Tree Campaign. Mokugift is taking creative approaches with its online gifting service and iPhone application to help the Billion Tree Campaign achieve a target of seven billion trees."

- Satinder Bindra, Director, UNEP

moku: district, island, islet, section, forest, grove

Omar Offendum Loves Trees - Plant One Please!

I was recently asked to participate in the Mokugift Artists & Athletes program. This unique initiative allows my friends/fans to join me, Mokugift, & UNEP in the fight againts global warming by planting trees in areas of our planet that need them the most.

Academic research by Dr Bala of Lawrence Livermore National Labratory shows that trees planted in tropical zones are the most beneficial to the fight against global warming. His study covered the effects of carbon dioxide absorption, reflection of solar radiation, and reflection of solar ration from increased cloudiness. He also accounted for the warming effect of heat held by absorbed sunlight. Therefore, Mokugift trees are planted in the following 12 tropical countries: Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Burundi, Senegal, Zambia, India, Philippines, and Haiti

Mokugift is proud to partner with two award-winning, tree-planting organizations to plant trees in twelve countries fighting deforestation and poverty: Trees For The Future (TFTF) and Sustainable Harvest International(SHI). TFTF and SHI educate local communities about planting techniques that enrich the land and empower them to overcome poverty. As each participating family proudly graduates from these programs with healthy farming knowledge and enriched lifestyles, they inspire other families to adopt the same techniques.

No one is hired to plant the trees. Farmers apply to be part of the programs. Mokugift partners educate local communities on farming techniques while also providing resources such as seeds, materials for nurseries and irrigation equipment. Local communities and farmers plant the trees because they want to enrich their land and community in a way that they will be proud to pass on to future generations.

Fore more information, visit >>

3iiish Trees !

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Don't Hold Your Breath"

"The main problem, he said, is that Damascus is never in a hurry, while Washington always is..."

A recent article in the BBC was full of classic quotes from different players in the Syrian-US Politcal theater ... Here are a few that I found amusing >>
  • "The Iranians could take 20 years to weave a carpet ... And the Syrians would say to them: Don't rush, we have plenty of time. But the Americans want to eat their hamburger in three minutes and move on."

An existential problem to say the least . . .

  • "George Bush's plan failed, Syria won and Syrians now feel that their policies were correct all along..."

What exactly did we win? A medal? A gift-certificate? A new car?

  • "I think beneath the bravado, Syria is in fact uncomfortable with Iran and that both President al-Assad and his people would prefer to look to the West," (the former US ambassador to Israel) says.

Compass references (East/West) are meaningless ... I mean technically, Iran is "look(ing) to the West" when it allies with Syria ... isn't it?

  • "Two years ago George Bush decided to ban me from entering America and to freeze my assets in the States. I laughed: I have nothing to lose in America."

I am tempted to say "ignorance is bliss" ... but i'm afraid that would be ... blissful ?

  • "People in the region understand that the US policy has been very fickle"

If by "fickle" he means - aggressive, one-sided, & misguided - say word.

  • "Obama's silence on Gaza was noted in the region ..."
Sad but true ... you all know how much I respect The Man ... but this was weak. Especially since his rationale was the whole "one president at a time" thing - while he went out of his way to condemn the attacks in Mumbai just months before ...
  • But when it comes to real changes no-one in the Middle East is holding their breath.

SyrianamericanA in a pistachio-nutshell my people ...

(Pray for &) 3iiish P E A C E