Starchild: I weave “HOPE” for my people”
”While we crawl in the darkness, cursing it as we search for the light, we fail to realize that the light is within our minds, and all we must do to illuminate the obscurity is open them.”-Amir ‘Starchild’ Abdel-Fattah.
At such a youthful age in an era where the word ‘impossible’ has been silent, Starchild’s future is a volcano erupting with endless possibilities. This young man is not only a rapper, singer, song-writer and poet, but he’s also a profound motivational speaker, touching on many valuable issues through music or by speaking up. The love for what he does is unquestionable. As I interviewed him, I was left motivated and eager to do more and make a difference. I hope this young man’s interview with the Jamati family, will motivate somebody to be the change they want to see in the world.
Jamati: Kudos to you, and to the profound movement you’re leading, thank you so much for joining the escalating number of Africans sharing their stories right here under the Jamati tree.
Thank you for taking an interest in my story. I appreciate the opportunity to share it with you.
Jamati: In brief, introduce yourself to the Jamati family? Define who Starchild is?
Well, my birth-name is Amir Mohammed El-Bedawi Abdel-Fattah. I’m a rapper, singer, song-writer, producer, poet, freelance write, and a full time student. I was born to an ethnic upper-Egyptian father and an African-American human rights activist, journalist, political analyst and humanitarian of a mother, who is the biggest influence in my life. Although having spent quite some time in Egypt, I was raised in Washington D.C., in a low-income community of Ethiopians, Somalis, Nubians, Egyptians, Eritreans and Sudanese immigrants, most of whom where Muslims and Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Jamati: What is the driving force behind your artistic journey?
Love for music, love for my people and a strong belief in a united international African community. Each community of black people in the world is directly affected by the other’s movement, struggle and achievement. The South African anti-apartheid movement, for example, and the African-American civil rights movement were obviously both extremely influential in their respective countries, but many people seem to misunderstand and even underestimate the affects they had on the rest of the African Diaspora. They affected it tremendously. It gave hope to other black communities who were suffering from similar adversities in their own societies, and provided them with live prototypes and blueprints for successful uprisings against oppression and injustice, and they changed the political landscape and atmosphere for black people drastically. We therefore must be united, because everything we do affects each other–from the inner cities of Harlem, to the jungles of the Congo, to the tropics of Dominica, to the deserts of Sudan, we all have a natural stake in the well-being and prosperity of every community of African people on the planet.
Jamati: Who would you say most profoundly paved the way for you to choose the route you choose musically?
Some of the musical artists who influenced me greatly are Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh, Youssou N’Dour, Miriam Makeba, Fela Kuti, Mohammed Mounir, Tony Allen, Teddy Afro, Maryan Mursal, Tilahun Gessesse, Muluken Melesse, Rakeem, Public Enemy, Dead Prez, Busta Rhymes, and any musical artist who’s had a positive message and has managed to convey it through great music. Above all, my greatest influence has been my mother.
When I was growing up, my mother played lots of Egyptian music and Frank Sinatra at home, so I would say that most of the passion in my love songs is a direct result of listening to hours of Um Kalthoum, Feruz and Ol’ Blue Eyes himself.
Jamati: At such a youthful age when artists are writing songs that will sell rather than songs about the seriousness of what is happening in Africa, what made you choose to be fearless and focus on the issues you write about?
Several things pushed me to do so. One of the main things is obviously the fact that I can’t sit back and watch my people suffer. I have to say or do something. It’s my, and every African’s, responsibility to speak out. Another reason would be the poverty, discrimination and racism that I, as well as other indigenous Africans and African-Americans face right here in the west. I was raised around immigrants from the same area of Africa my family is from–northeast Africa–so not only is this one of the most politically, socially, and economically unstable areas in Africa with the numerous issues in Somalia, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, but when people that are descendants from these areas live in the United States–even those of us who are born here–we face the discrimination that most black people face on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, it would be shameful for me to ignore these issues, and to not speak out for black people and oppressed people all over the world.
Jamati: As an artist is there a song you wish you could have written?
Definitely, there are a few. “Redemption” by Bob Marley, “Yene Konjo” by Muluken Melesse, “Mama Africa” by Chico Cesar, “Mentira” by Manu Chao, and “All I do” by Stevie Wonder.
Jamati: As an African artist in this new Obama era, what hopes do you have, entertainment-wise for African’s such as yourself?
My hopes for entertainers in this era are slowly coming true. President Obama taking office meant a lot to people of color, and it obviously inspired the world. One of the results is you’ve seen a lot of people try out socially conscious music or make an “Obama Anthem”, which are both equally as nice. When artists like Mos Def and Immortal Technique are slowly becoming household names in certain circles and communities, then you know the world is changing for the better.
Jamati: What is one quote that you live by?
“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”-Malcom X
Jamati: K’naan or Akon?
To be honest, I like them both. Akon has the vocal ability, the production style and a mass appeal down, but K’naan’s socially conscious slant makes his music alluring to lyric-lovers and hip-hop heads. Lately, they’ve almost kinda slowly been trading places. K’naan, with his new album and single, has been showing his ability to appeal to a wider demographic, while Akon has been slowly shifting away from the more hip-hop oriented music and becoming more of a world music artist.
Jamati: Between being a poet and a musician, which one of the two do you find yourself getting in tune with more?
I feel that in order to make exceptional music you have to be equally in tune with both. I pride myself on my rapping, singing and song-writing ability. Not just the fact that I can do all three, but that I can do all three with a certain level of quality and talent. I work hard on trying to make good music, and apparently, based on the amazing response from those who listen to my music around the world, they are enjoying it, and I greatly appreciate their love and support.
Jamati: Is there any question, that musically you’ve never been asked and what is it?
I make a lot of songs about African women and black women all over the world. People seem to love the songs, but no one has ever asked me, “Why do you make so many songs about African women?” They probably don’t ask because they know as well as I do that African women are the most beautiful women in the world!
Jamati: Take us through your current playlist?
[Smile] Here they are: “Zimbabwe” – Bob Marley; “Jammin“-Bob Marley; “Somali Udiida Ceeb” – Maryan Mursal; “Hip-Hop“-Dead Prez; “My Cherie Amor” -Stevie Wonder; ” Rock With You” – Michael Jackson; “I’ll Be Around” – The Spinners; ” I Get a Kick Out of You” – Frank Sinatra; “Fly Like An Eagle“-Steve Miller Band; “Definition“-Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli); and a few more, but that would end up taking all day!
Jamati: Thank you so much for your time and the light that you shined upon the Jamati tree. Please keep us updated with the projects of your journey.
No doubt and, once again, I appreciate Jamati taking interest in me and my music, and I appreciate the opportunity to share with you. And to all my fellow Africans, Africa UP! Much love to you all who are connected to Jamati.
For more on Starchild, please visit my Myspace page.