Omar Musa

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 | News
Omar Musa

This week we caught up with Omar Musa and talked about three of my favourite things, hip hop, poetry, and of course… ladies

I first heard of you as the Australian Slam poet champ, now you have a new music video out. So which came first; poetry or music?

Definitely poetry. I have been writing poetry since I was a young child. My father was a poet in Malaysia, so he always encouraged me. I’m an only child and we didn’t have much money growing up, so writing and painting kept me busy. Once I was in my teens, I got into Wu Tang Clan, Ice Cube and Public Enemy, because I realised that hip-hop was modern poetry, but contemporary and accessible, unlike a lot of written poetry.

The video for Hemmingway was shot in London, have you made the move out of Australia or was this just for the video?

I lived in London most of last year working with grime artists such as Akala, which was amazing. I shot the video during that time with Tom Spiers, a genius of a director and gem of a guy. The video was painstaking work, mostly shot between the hours of 10pm and 4am. I’m back here in Australia now. It was a bit too hectic, cold and dreary over there. London pretty much swallowed me up and spat me out!

Omar Musa – Hemingway

How do you find it to be an Australian hip hopper? is this something that goes down well with audiences, or do you find is conjures up the wrong image of your music?

It’s weird. Overseas people either go bananas cos my style is something totally new to them, or they don’t quite “get” it. In the Australian poetry scene, I get the feeling that people think you are going to be less literate or intelligent because you are a rapper, which is annoying, but something I hope I’m helping to change.

What’s playing on your ipod at the moment dude?

Man, a lot of stuff. I still listen to a lot of Kanye West, Jay-Z and OutKast. But the albums I’m listening to the most at the moment are ‘Troubador’ by K’Naan, ‘Dummy’ by Portishead and ‘Boy in da Corner’ by Dizzeee Rascal. I really like stuff that pushes the boundaries a bit. There is so much lame, cheesy shit out there are the moment.

What gets you more love interest… being a rapper, or being a poet?… and do they attract different audiences?

Haha. I guess being a rapper, because women seem to be attracted to the allure of a bad boy musician. Little do they know I’m a mad bookworm who spends most of my spare time in second hand bookshops and galleries haha. And yeah, poetry and hip-hop attract really different audiences. I love both equally, though sometimes poetry can be a bit wanky and hip-hop a bit too aggressive.

What’s up next for Omar Musa?

A bunch of shows, writers’ festivals and most importantly, I’ll be recording my full length album in Seattle, USA, with Geoff Stanfield. I want people to realise that I’m Australian hip-hop’s most powerful, important and intelligent new voice.  I’m trying to do everything in my power to make that happen. Keep supporting independent music!

Also, I just released a free download mixtape, so if people are interested they can get to it here



And you can check out more from Omar Musa at:


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2 Comments to Omar Musa

Lee Brown
April 19, 2010

I love Omar’s work. I’ve seen him perform live and his honesty is moving. I am an English teacher in Yass (very near Queanbeyan) and I want to get my year 10 students (boys in particular) interested in poetry. I feel Omar’s work and background would be perfect for getting these kids interested and opening them up to the power of poetry as a tool for self-expression.

I was wondering if he is available for a school visit, to both perform and to speak about his work?

I sure hope so.

[...] back to an earlier piece on Australian Slam Poet Champion Omar Musa, the man’s released his first studio album of [...]

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