Zaki Ibrahim

12 Feb

If you’re into clear-cut classifications you may tire yourself out searching for a box that fits Zaki Ibrahim. Somewhat of a rolling stone, wandering between locales and genres, Ibrahim is an enigma. The Canadian born singer/songwriter of British and South African descent speaks in her own language – a combination of poetry and prose, English and Arabic, hip hop’s flavour and the smoothness of R&B. Perhaps the only accurate word to describe her music is the all encompassing, somewhat understated, “good.”zaki-dress1

Although born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Ibrahim is a citizen of the world, having dipped in and out of various nations across continents before finally settling into life in Toronto. Her experiences travelling, along with her own rich cultural heritage, informed her social consciousness and shaped her personal philosophy on life.

In between all the travelling there was always music. As the daughter of a percussionist and a writer/poet, Ibrahim has been writing songs since she was a child, and credits her father for helping to cultivate her passion for hip hop. “My father was very impressed by hip hop and the way he saw it being able to be this movement, the way young people were able to hold on to it as their culture,” she says. As a teenager, she threw hooks on friends’ rap songs and tried her hand at emceeing as she continued to develop her own voice as a performer.

After having spent an eight month stint in South Africa connecting with family, Ibrahim opted to “change up cities” and move to Toronto. “I won’t hate on Vancouver,” she says laughing. “It’s a beautiful place but there’s a definite conservative undertone to most things and there are limitations, as far as being an artist and a person of colour.” Understandably, Ibrahim wanted to experience firsthand what had been described to her: a budding city full of culture that embraced the arts.

zaki-drumsThanks to her undeniable talent, Ibrahim’s name has been flying out of music lovers’ mouths in and around the city for years now. Ibrahim has released two EPs; Shö (Iqra in Orange), and Eclectica (Episodes in Purple), although we’re still waiting on the full length (supposedly titled Every Opposite). Ibrahim was also recently nominated for a 2009 Juno Award for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.

“There are these funny talks which I’ve laughed about, but at the same time I realize that it’s just reality. ‘So, what are you? What’s your image? What are you trying to sell? If we’re going to be booking these shows for you, we [need to] put our finger on what we’re selling.'” Ibrahim says. “My answer is to laugh and say, ‘That’s just it! Try to package that up.'”

-Alison

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