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!!!