indie now | sekisupervillain : in for the long haul1
in for the long haul
The dim studio lights were a contrast to the gleaming aura this supervillain exhumed. The moniker, an embodiment of who he is as an artist and as a person, has drawn not just the attention of the hip hop community but the rest of the music scene in its entirety.
"How close is this to my face?" This mood-setting remark in reference to the camera set the tone for what has been more than just an interview. It was a fellowship of like-minded individuals like those gathered around a table feasting on food for both body and soul, telling stories of past and present exploits. To Ismael aka Seki Supervillain, the adventures have only just begun.
indie now | sekisupervillain : in for the long haul2
Young Ajman boy Ismael went for an unplanned sleepover with cousins playing PS4 until curfew. His strict uncle locked the guest room doors at bedtime and made sure none of the boys run around and get extra playtime. Everyone was safely tucked in bed. Around 3 am, Ismael was awakened by a knock on the door. "Yo! Let’s go make a song," his cousin quietly remarked.
The boys kept the rap stint under wraps, a secret from their uncle to this day. These juvenile studs were living saying 'If there's a will, there's a way.' This one, in particular, was a jump-out-the-window and off to their headquarters, a small recording studio Ismael's cousin had set-up. Armed with a gaming headphone-microphone set, the two set off to an adventure that took the course of their musical lives to heights they never knew possible.
Ismael performed and recorded the English bars his cousin wrote for an Arabic rap they then submitted for an online competition. The experience was Ismael's first taste of working on music and hearing his voice on a track. Not winning the contest was never a deterrent for the dynamic duo. According to Ismael,
Their second attempt landed them in third place. Motivated and all fired-up, our protagonist wanted a stage name for the next competition.
the superhero name
Although writing for himself took a while, his first post did good numbers. Since then, he embarked on his life-changing passion. The first stage name was embarrassing according to Ismael. "Some things are better kept buried." His name Ismael sounds like the word smile, a face he wears constantly. In university, friends called him Izzy because of his easy-going attitude. Seki came from a long name he used and the supervillain from an adlib for a song Big Racks. "Seki Supervillain never had a dentist, got no fillin'”.
indie now | sekisupervillain : in for the long haul3
influences and energies
Music has been part of Seki's super journey on and off the stage. Close kin has made an impact on his musical roller coaster ride. According to the budding rapper, "Hard times in my childhood, I listened to a lot of Tupac and Biggie." A certain tone of seriousness dawned when he metaphorically narrated times where he felt inexplicable dark energy around him - certain things that needed to be accepted as part of reality. Enter Biggie's lyrics. In moments where he was in a different kind of 'dark,' as if looking for a light at the end of the tunnel is where his companion was Tupac's "deep lyrics."
exclusivv | sekisupervillain : in for the long haul4
In a world where great divides exist, the music scene finds comfort in knowing there are those who pave the way to break out of the mold. Seki's growing community has been a support system he takes pride in. A place where like-minded people got each others' back. "I got you," says Seki. "Helping another artist is what’s going to keep the scene growing. Without the scene I am nothing," he added. This paradigm shift has inspired him and others and has translated into his performances that trickles to the crowd's reaction. "When I’m on the stage I want to look like a rockstar. I wanna make people feel like this is it!" Indeed, to some degree, rap is the new rockstar. "We all need this. It was quiet before, now you see companies backing the scene. Now we musicians can eat!"
When asked if he would accept a million-dollar deal that required him to change his persona or lyrics, Seki exclaimed, "Hell no! I can make that million by myself!” Authenticity is a rare commodity in this day and age of superficial posts and likes. "There’s always someone who influenced us as artists," he remarked. Carefully explaining his thoughts on the idea of artists creating a product out of the influence of other crafts, he compares his creative process as that of recycling. Taking inspiration from others' in bits and pieces and what comes out is unique. "What matters more is how you act, pushing people to believe in themselves more through the lyrics you say."
Be transparent. Be there. Authenticity comes in naturally
Seki's love for communicating, whether through his performances or interviews, sets a standard a generation past his might emulate. His love for comics and movie superheroes excites him as much as music, if not equally, wishing he has a flawless teleportation power. But not many may know, Ismael is a spiritual person.
We are in an industry where we're susceptible to feeling a sense of emptiness. Prayer helps me stay grounded
Perhaps the 'super-villain' in Seki is only an alter ego. He might as well be Dubai's rising rap and hip hop superhero. For all the superheroes and supervillains without capes we come across, we can step back and see it all pan out to be part of the grander scheme of things. In this case, the only villain was the race against time.
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