The Writer: Adil Omar’s Rise to Stardom
“I never heal from the scars in time/ but ima tell a great story with my Scars and Rhymes”
“I’m not a corporate friendly artist.” says 25 year-old Adil Omar.
The obstacle of breaking into the music scene without being market friendly does not faze Adil. Not after all that he has overcome.
Adil Omar was born May 17, 1991 in London, but his roots are in Islamabad, Pakistan. A Pakistan native since he was a toddler, he acknowledges that his beginnings were what sparked the creativity and knowledge (that is present )in his music today.
“My childhood was unique, interesting, and rough in parts,” Adil said. “A lot of death and pain.”
At age 10, Adil experienced his first catastrophic loss. His father passed away. His mother developed amnesia and epilepsy immediately after his father’s passing.
Adil was devastated, but found solace in a pen.
“Father’s death and mom’s struggle with amnesia and epilepsy pushed me over the edge,” explains Adil. “It made writing a part of me rather than something I just did for fun.”
Home wasn’t the only place that Adil found challenges. He performed poorly in school, and at the age of 13 was kicked out from his school for poor grades. He decided to take a year off from studies and stay home. It was then when he began putting his written word into spoken word.
“I started off with a cheap microphone attached to headphones and Adobe Audition 1.0,” says Adil.
He recorded from his home in Islamabad, starting off with the lyrics he had written in previous years.
The first recordings consisted of Adil trying to find his niche as an artist. Topics in the early music ranged from tales of mobsters to horrorcore rap.
Through time and experience, Omar began getting more personal in his music. He used websites such as Myspace, Orkut, Facebook and YouTube to promote his material vigorously.
He soon began to gain fans, who appreciated the musician’s brutal honesty and edgy lyrics.
That is when a living hip hop legend took notice.
B-Real, member of the famed rap group Cypress Hill, discovered Omar’s music on Myspace in 2008. Omar was star struck.
At the request of B-Real, Omar flew to Los Angeles. He recorded a song for B-Real’s Harvest Vol. 1 Cd. The track, titled “Takeover,” featured Omar and B-Real trading verses.
“It was probably one of the highest moments of my life at the time,” Omar said.
This opened a floodgate of new contacts for Adil, and people all over the world took notice.
“People started paying more attention,” Adil says. “But I’ve always been a bit reclusive and about work. I keep myself busy with actual work and alienate myself from a lot of real life feedback unless I’m doing a show.”
After the collaboration with B-Real, Adil continued recording, further improving his sound and collaborating.
Among the more unique features was collaboration in 2009 with Penn from Penn and Teller, on a track titled “Spookshow.”
Now solidified as a rising star, Omar began working on his debut album, The Mushroom Cloud Effect.
With high hopes of a successful debut, Omar ventured out west again, this time to record with another rap legend, Xzibit.
The two collaborated on Omar’s first single, “Off the Handle.” A music video was shot in downtown Los Angeles, by director Matt Alonzo.
At only 20-years-old, Omar’s rap career was blossoming, but more obstacles needed to be cleared.
In mid-2012, The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority banned YouTube due to a controversial film trailer that aired on the site insulting Islam.
The nation felt the effect of the ban, but the musicians, such as Adil, hurt the most from it.
“The ban really crippled our entire music scene at the time in Pakistan; I too was strongly challenged by it,” said Omar. I depended on YouTube to find my own audience.”
Omar wouldn’t be where he is at without perseverance though. He used the ban as a positive experience.
“It made me resilient as a human being, but made it 100x harder,” says Omar. “Music pours out of my soul and it is all I’ve wanted to do since I was 9 years old.”
As recording for his first CD commenced, he continued to build a guest list of Hip Hop royalty to collaborate with.
Another song with B-Real was recorded, and then another favorite musician of Omar, Everlast, performed the chorus to “Hand Over Your Guns.”
Hard Target, Sick Jacken, Greydon Square and others also were featured artists. One name stood above the rest though.
Omar’s favorite Mc and rap pioneer Kool G Rap lent his vocals to the song “Summertime.”
The album was finally released on March 22, 2013 to critical acclaim. Singles such as “Paki Rambo” garnered over 350 thousand YouTube views, further opening doors for the talented M.C.
Soon after, the directors of Burka Avenger, a multi-award winning animation series, tasked Omar with creating a song for the soundtrack to the show. Omar crafted the song “Lady in Black,” which became the number one single of the soundtrack.
A new album and a number one single on an award winning series, not bad for a 22-year-old.
Still, unfinished business remained. Pakistan’s YouTube ban was still being enforced, and Omar was fed up.
Being one of the many affected by the ban as previously mentioned, Omar and rapper/comedian Ali Gul Pir decided to respond. The pair recorded the song and video titled “Kholo B.C.”
Kholo Ban Chor, translated to “open the ban, you thieves,” is aimed at the IT prime minister and those involved in the ban.
He raps about how he went from being viral on the internet to having to hide behind proxies to gain access to YouTube.
Ironically, the video was uploaded on YouTube.
The song and video gained national as well as worldwide praise. Hip hop icon Bun B lent his support to Omar’s cause, re-tweeting the video to spread the word.
The ban was finally lifted January 19, 2016.
During the Kholo BC campaign, Omar also released a new song titled “Exploding Heart.” Equipped with a much different sound than any of his previous music, Omar showed an artistic and musical maturation that would lead him to his next destination, SXSW.
“Everything I do reflects the state of mind I’m in, I don’t follow a formula,” he says. “Everything I do will evolve and sound different and new.”
While his core fans were surely surprised to hear the direction Omar was taking musically, they lauded the artist’s ability to evolve and express himself in vastly different ways.
SATURDAY NIGHT KILLING MACHINE
Continuing with his ever-evolving sound, Omar partnered with his friend and music Producer Talal Qureshi, releasing a grandiose and experimental Ep titled “Saturday Night Killing Machine.” The Ep, released January 30, 2015, features Omar’s vocals on 5 EDM inspired tracks, which he performed March 19, 2015 at the star studded SXSW in Austin, Texas.
One year later, Omar released his next EP, titled Margalla King. The name is a reference to a hill range in the Himalayas located in his hometown of Islamabad, Pakistan. The EP consists of three tracks, with the standout being “Wedding Shells”, featuring Bun B.
Adils’ stardom has gifted him futher opportunities in the music industry. on February 27, he performed with 3-time Grammy award winning musician Diplo in his hometown of Islamabad.
He also shared the stage recently with Swedish artist Elliphant.
It’s no doubt that Omar has come a long way from the young teen in Islamabad who was auditioning his music on every imaginable website.
He is grateful for the chance he has in front of him, and credits B-Real for helping him.
“He hooked me up, jump started my career, introduced me to a world and network that allowed me to take my career forward,” says Omar. “I owe a lot to him for helping me in that way.”
One thing is certain with Adil Omar, both the person and musician. No matter how hard the odds may be, or how many times he falls down, in the end, as he raps on a Mickey-Rourke-esque tale, “The Writer” rises again.