ZAG, real name Amr Awwad, is a Hip-Hop artist, Spoken Word Poet, and DJ. Originally from Zagazig, Egypt, he has moved to Seattle at the age of 15 to pursue a career in Hip-Hop. Leaving behind his friends, family, and society in search for his unique voice in the diaspora. Driven by his passion for social justice and Equity work, ZAG has been vocal and active in the Hip-Hop and Spoken Word community in Seattle, performing at many venues including The Moore Theatre and MoPop’s Sky Church. ZAG is also a 2016-2017 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador. In the future, ZAG hopes to go back to his hometown and start his own nonprofit, helping youth know their rights through art and self-expression.
Tell us a little about how you discovered your love for music. What are some of your greatest influences? What made you want to write about your experiences and perform in front of an audience?
I was in 6th Grade when I started to fall in love with music, specifically Hip-Hop. Peruvian-born Revolutionary Immortal Technique was my first inspiration in my music making process. I was always fascinated by how words could be used to tell a story through music, how I could tell MY story through music. It wasn’t until I was in 9th grade that I recorded my first song, titled —unironically at the time— “Run The Game.” Of course, looking back at it, it sounds really silly as it was my first ever song. But you have to start somewhere, I guess. Afterwards, I started thinking about how I don’t actually have “money” or “fame” as I had mentioned in my first song, so I decided to talk about the struggles of growing up in Egyptian society in the next song, titled “Strugglin’.” Nowadays, I talk about a myriad of topics, ranging from religion and spirituality, and cultures and societies, braggadocious raps and love, to unfazed critiques of imperialism and oppressive governments. I’m inspired by Hip-Hop artists such as Capital STEEZ (RIP), Lupe Fiasco and Blu, and poets such as Amiri Baraka and Gil Scott-Heron.
Have you been working on any projects lately? When should we expect to hear new material from you?
I’ve been working on my debut mixtape, an unnamed 10 track project focusing on my transition from Egypt to the US, highlighting the contrasts and striking similarities of both societies. I’m also working on a self-produced 3 track EP, which will tell a story of Egyptian struggle from after the Jan 25th Revolution in 2011. I’m aiming for early 2019 to release both projects. Stay tuned by following me @ZAGBoi on Instagram for more updates.
What advice would you give to other young artists?
“All good things come to those that stay true” -Tupac Shakur