Nadim Azzam and his crew put on quite a performance at the Ark’s Artist Spotlight last night. Compared to my other experiences at the Ark, I found that this genre of music fell into a more distant category from the general body of work that has been presented before. Althea Grace’s bluesy indie opening set very much felt at home amidst the audience and atmosphere that represents the most beloved elements of the Ark.
What I greatly enjoy about Nadim Azzam is a unique charisma that can be consistently felt throughout his set in the rhymes and rhythms of his music. The personality of his sound comes from the self-evaluated rebelliousness of his teen years, as Azzam says, “Most of my songs are written to myself, a lot of them are about expressing struggle and pain while still trying to be hopeful. They can be about feeling lost while trying to find a way, wanting to become a better person and living up to potential.”
A personal highlight included the presence of a tight-sounding jazzy saxophone in the mix of acoustic qualities and 1950s’-sounding ballad-like presentation. I credit Nadim Azzam for the ambition that is required for such a bold merging of hip-hop, acoustic, and jazz, but I often found the seamed mashing of genres together rather disjointed. While the melodies and striking timbre of the group produced heartfelt sounds, I was generally less than impressed in the level of sophistication present in the group’s sung lyrics. However, the flow that Nadim put forth in his rap lyrics was impressive and seemingly well-rehearsed.
While Althea Grace played the part of a successful opener for Nadim Azzam, I am hoping that she finds herself returning to the Ark as a headliner one day. Her music is light and subtle with an element of mystery that she weaves into a captivating musical narrative.
From humble beginnings, Nadim Azzam began his musical journey upon the discovery of his love for music and vocalization on a wilderness exploration trip. His smooth tone sincerely gels with the music that he aspires to make widespread, as we are seeing his rise to greater appreciation in the ears of listeners, local or otherwise. From playing at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival in 2019 to the upcoming release of his full-length album in 2020, Nadim Azzam does not show any sign of slowing down.