Shabir Karim, best known as Karim, is an Afghan-American artist from the Middle East Side of Queens, NY. He first rapped his way into the scene in 2013, with a cleverly-titled mixtape, ‘Metropolitics‘, which was produced solely by his brother, Yaser.
Now, two years later–more mature, more evolved, & with a sound that’s ready to bring the city back–the emcee is dropping his second project, ‘Liberty City Storiez‘, an 8-track EP. The EP features a wide range of exotic production from other upstarts such as Yaser, Offy, & K. Rich.
Unlike many of his peers, who put out feature-laden project after feature-laden project, Karim pulls the project off on his own, with a solid performance the whole way through. He does opt for two well-placed features–a robust verse from Philly rapper WalkerAMEN on the climactic “Grunge” & a smooth, soulful hook courtesy of London’s Ella Mai on “Like That“.
Karim’s ability to ride the beat–to ebb as much as he flows–is paramount to his sound…His lyrics, occasionally infused with an Arabic word or two, turn the typical stereotypes about Middle Easterners into quick-witted punchlines:
“Sneak an AK in my camel, yo, I cock it and spray; So many akhis (brothers), Queens looking like Guantanamo Bay.”
The EP opens with the title track, “Liberty City“, which features Karim’s gritty raps over a dark, ominous soundscape, setting the tone for the rest of the project, which follows the lead of “Liberty City“, making for a cohesive listening experience. Karim picks up speed on the radio ready “Caviar Thoughts“, a more up-tempo track.
On “Vice City“, a darkly seductive intro leads into Karim’s raw, candid rhymes. The sometimes sordid lyrics, delivered with a casual nonchalance, seem to be slightly at odds with the track’s dramatic, exquisitely beautiful production.
But juxtaposition is the underlying theme of ‘Liberty City Storiez‘, and Karim pulls it together nicely for the grand finale, “All Me“, where he raps about being caught between two different worlds: one that isn’t of this world, where he’s on sirat al-mustaqim–the straight path–or the dunya, the physical world, where he’s caught up with the pursuit of worldly pleasures.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
Freedom has never been free; it’s actually rather expensive, and every man has his price…The American dream seems elusive in the city that never sleeps…Welcome to ‘Liberty City Storiez‘!!!
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