Meet our artists through their playlists.
December 2023 playlist is by our Board member, Artist Representative – Azzam Mohamed.
Azzam, also known as Shazam, is a dancer, performer, and educator from Sudan. Azzam’s dance practice encompasses a range of styles, from traditional cultural dance through to hip hop styles, he is able to bring these forms together to create a breathtaking original dance fusion that echoes his history and at the same time showcases his incredible ability as a dancer.
This January 2024, Azzam is curating a high-energy hip-hop block party Sculptured Riddims: Street Fusion, part of 2024 Sydney Festival. In this art meets music and dance immersive experience, dance artists will share their creative responses to the twisting neon installation Hi-Vis, with each night showcasing different communities, cultures, music genres and dance styles — from club to street to Afro dance.
In the meantime, we were curious to hear what is usually on Azzam’s playlist…
“Here’s my playlist, curated with diverse reasons behind each selection. The common thread among them is my genuine liking, the tendency to revisit them regularly, their inclusion in my top ‘on repeat’ playlist, and the sheer pleasure of having them on constant rotation. Give it a listen, and I hope you enjoy it.”
TRACK #1: عم عبدالرحيم – مصطفى سيد أحمد
The title of the song is ‘Am Abdel’Alraheem’ (Uncle Abdel’Alraheem), performed by Mustafa Sayed Ahmed and penned by the Sudanese poet, Muhammad Al-Hassan Salem Hamid. The unparalleled artistry of storytelling in this song is truly captivating. Close your eyes while listening to Mustafa’s rendition, and it’s as if you’re immersed in a cinematic experience. Unfortunately, you might need to pick up some Sudanese slang to fully grasp the lyrical nuances. :p
In a similar way, when it comes to Hip Hop, I find joy in storytelling, immersing myself in the music, and naturally nodding along. The story behind “I Let Nas Down” which led to “Made Nas Proud” is dope, and it made me appreciate it even more. I resonate deeply with the theme of striving to make someone proud, grappling with self-doubt, and the inner struggle that ensues. It’s a poignant journey—one where you may question your efforts, only to be met with a response that lifts your spirits and instills a sense of pride.
TRACK #3: Kendrick Lamar – Duckworth
This track is truly remarkable—impeccably written with a captivating narrative. What elevates my admiration even further is the legendary 9th Wonder’s production, which involves sampling from three distinct tracks by artists from three different continents. It’s a masterpiece, and that’s all I can say.
TRACK #4: Bas ft. Adekunle Gold – Khartoum
Another thing I appreciate about Hip Hop is TRUTH TELLING. I don’t need to say much here, if you listen to it you’ll understand.
TRACK #5: Rapsody – Hard to Choose
Rapsody is one of my favourite MCs. Her pen, her delivery, and her voice just unmatched. Her musical approach is not “the popular” one or “the traditional” way which she is talking about in this track. It’s a nice reminder that your way is the way if you believe in it. Her album Eve is amazing, definitely worth checking and knowing the story behind it.
TRACK #6: Jill Scott – Golden
RIDDIM NATION – shout out Jamie Jazz, Funky Nai, Kween Gab, The Kid Joji, The Baddest Tony, DreadSoul Stan, and Chuck. This song reminds me of them.
I love this track for two reasons aside from how obviously it hits your soul. First, it gives a hopeful and uplifting vibe. Second, I came across a video of a South African guy named Nhlaka Nhliriz at a party singing it and dancing to this track. I won’t even try to explain, because I won’t do it justice so here’s the video for you to check out.
In the spirit of hope, and uplifting, this track and every track by Heavy-K will take you there. I’ll leave you with these for now 🙂
TRACK #9: fLako – Mating Dance
Shoutout to my crewmate Jamie Jazz for discovering this gem. Not only is the song fantastic, but the real reward comes when you listen to the entire track. Watching Jamie and his crew, HybridFormz, perform to this song intensified my love for it. Jamie, along with Taz and Pat, showcased a piece titled ‘HybridFormz’ as part of Out of Iso 2020 at 107 Redfern, presented by Intimate Spectacle.
This track stands out as my most-played favorite. It forms the core of ‘KATMA,’ a project I’ve been developing since the Choreographic Lab at Critical Path and PYT Fairfield. The rhythm, emotion, production quality, clever sampling, and the fusion of Ethiopian rhythms, Jazz, and House elements—both in the original track and the Atjazz remix—are, in my opinion, a musical delight. Words fall short to express how much I adore this track—hands down, my absolute favorite.
IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Anna Kucera