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STEREO TYPE “I’ve accepted the things that have happened in the world in the last 10 years, and I’ve realized a lot of things about myself too,” says Iraqi rapper Narcicyst.

Less than a year ago, the Narcicyst was on his way to a speaking engagement at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC, when customs hawks stopped him in his tracks. The Montreal-based Iraqi rhymesayer spent the next five hours being questioned and harassed, and was ultimately denied entry to the States. His rhymes, security claimed, were politically questionable, and his Twitter feed, which they'd printed out, didn't reflect the type of visitor they wanted. Never mind that he was booked to lecture at a summit titled "Rhymes of Peace: Arab Hip-Hop Artists on Youth and Media."

The irony doesn't end there. Narcy was also scheduled to screen an extended version of his viral music video for the song "P.H.A.T.W.A.," in which he's held up at the US border and hassled for his skin tone and religion, not to mention his rap stylings and hip-hop hi-tops. Not everything went down exactly like in Narcy's video; there was no chorus line of shackled, hooded prisoners shimmying in the interrogation room. Still, it mirrored nearly every one of his border experiences since September 2001.

"That last one was the worst," says Narcy, who rocks the Middle East next Wednesday with Yusuf, a white American Muslim MC. "I had just found out about my grandmother passing away, and I was shook — and they could tell that I was shook — but I wasn't going to let them sympathize with me. It was none of their fucking business. When I'm with my mom or my wife, I'm all good, though, so these days when I get booked for shows I tell people that they have to fly one of them down with me or get me a contract and a [work] visa."

Miraculously meta as it may be that Narcy falls prey to the same bullshit that he satirizes, it's understandable why border monkeys have been bouncing on him since the second George W. Bush term. Following the attacks on the World Trade Center and subsequent march into the Middle East, countless American rappers sharpened their political swords. Yet the most poignant ruminations came from Narcy and his former group Euphrates, whose 2004 masterpiece, Stereotypes Incorporated, delivered the perspective of a young, intellectual Iraqi whose quick tongue scolded the American warmongers who were devastating his people.

Now a teacher of communications and hip-hop at Concordia University in Montreal, Narcy has toned down the verbal acrobatics and Halliburton name-calling that earned him superlative underground props and an FBI file. His newer, more subtle approach is a flip from this former strategy — which was to ride beats in Trojan Horses stuffed with socio-political snuffs. It took much meditation, but Narcy realized that if the system wouldn't change — and if he's going to get shit at the border no matter what — then he had to be the change he seeks.

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  Topics: Music Features , Politics, Iraq, 9/11,  More more >
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