Back with a new single and a music video, Adil Omar is perhaps the best English rapper around.
He doesn’t hide from the inner rage that we all can experience from time to time; the alienation or standing at the precipice. Much more importantly, Adil Omar has started showcasing the man he has become and his progression as a singer-songwriter, rapper, lyricist and producer; it’s been a long journey from ‘Paki Rambo’.
Some find his work a narcissism manifesto but Adil is building his own narrative, which is not always about him but the world around him and his interpretation of it.
After 2018’s Transcendence, a full length album that was accompanied by a film and could also be viewed as music videos per single, Adil has created Mastery, his second full length album.
For Transcendence, he collaborated with several artists such as Elliphant, SNKM (a collaborative duo ft. Adil Omar and Talal Qureshi), Shaman Durek, and Tim Armstrong (Rancid), Durran Amin, Ustad Tafu as well as Talal Qureshi.
His lyrical ingenuity also found space in the third edition of The Aleph Review (with his permission, as he told Instep at the time) with the lyrics of the song ‘Transcendence’ featured in full.
Now is the time for Mastery but unlike Transcendence, Adil Omar is dropping singles with regularity rather than as a bunch.
Off the four singles released so far, recorded at Bisonopolis (studio) in Islamabad, ‘The Great Unraveling’ and the all-new ‘Alien’ have been released in 2020.
At least three songs are backed by proper videos. And contrary to perspective, not all the music videos are dark if you just pay enough attention. One great example is ‘The Great Unraveling’ where Adil is hanging out at a carousel and riding rollercoasters, reminding us of the innocence of childhood.
‘Alien’ is different as the name suggests and yet has the signature of Adil Omar all over it. He has directed the music video and is featured on vocals/lyrics; he co-produced the single with Ali Saeed with mixing and engineering also done by Adil. If those credits are not enough, he has also co-mastered the single with Seth Drake.
But ‘Alien’ is faster with Adil rapping like never-before. It opens so gently in the first few seconds that you’re left wondering if it is indeed an Adil Omar song before subtle electronic hook appears and Adil keeps on rapping: “Shake It Off/Brush It Off/Quake It Off/F*** It Off/” before rhyming with that same I-do-not-care- attitude: “8400 Songs/Safe In The Upper Vault/Bass Full of Thunderbolts” and in a completely different vocal tone: “You Are Young And You Are Powerful.”
Halfway through the song, the rhymes deliver pieces of what Adil thinks, that he is spiritual and zen and not what we make of him. The concept feels like one of having self-belief instead of self-loathing. The music video, meanwhile, is less hard to decipher and a lot more simpler than preceding ones as we find Adil sitting and writing in a journal while rapping or in psychedelic hues. It’s a good song but the adventurous production is what takes the cake. The beats work and the hook is what keeps the song alive.
As director, Adil Omar told Instep honestly: “None of my videos have concepts. It’s just what vibe and mindset I’m in with the song; the message is in the music.”
Speaking about ‘Alien’ further, Adil noted, “I shot this at home, in my studio and a secret location. I just try to illustrate each song visually the best I can. Sometimes it ends up looking psychedelic but I don’t try. I just like having fun with it and seeing what happens. The meaning is up to the listener. I don’t know how I’d explain what the song means.”