Introducing: Eslam Jawaad
An ex Lebanese Mafia affiliate turned overweight entertainer, after an 8 Million Dollar sale of a stolen Mammoth tusk from a Siberian excavation went wrong...
Born to Syrian and Lebanese parents, Eslam Jawaad (real name 'Wissam Khodur') left his mafia past in Lebanon and came to London in October 2003 where he quickly caught on to the vibrant music scene of the bustlin' city. He found his way into the underground music scene, linking with British acts UK Apache, Visionary Underground, Fun-Da-Mental and Asian Dub Foundation.
Music was a hobby, a way to release the stress of surviving in the expensive city of London, but Eslam had limited time to dedicate himself to the art. After his demo landed in the hands of Moroccan Wu-Tang rapper/producer & manager Cilvaringz, the two linked up in London and Eslam found himself inspired by the achievements of his fellow Arab colleague, who had worked his way up from a local rapper in Holland, to an officially affiliated member of the multi-platinum selling and internationally acclaimed rap group The Wu-Tang Clan.
Cilvaringz offered his help and services and Eslam signed a management deal with his company RPEG Ltd, turning his hobby into a serious commitment. While first focused on the rapidly growing Arabic rap scene, he quickly found himself writing down his life memoirs in the English language, feeling it was too early for the Arabic music industry to take local Hip Hop serious.
Ironically, it was his Arabic rap talent that launched him onto the scene in a bigger way than he could have imagined. Through a mutual friend, DJ U-Cef, Eslam was introduced to Gorillaz & Blur frontman Damon Albarn who was looking for an Arabic rapper to describe the city of London on the song 'Mr.Whippy', scheduled for his next project called 'The Good, The Bad & The Queen [EMI/Virgin]'. They clicked, and within an hour Eslam had recorded his verse.
The group, made up of Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon [The Clash], Simon Tong [The Verve] & Tony Allen [Fela Kuti] debuted at number 2 in the UK Albums Chart and was certified Gold in the UK within days of its release. After the group released their first single "Herculean" with "Mr.Whippy" on the B-side, the band appeared at the BBC's Electric Proms season at the redeveloped Roundhouse in Camden in which they performed the entire album, and brought out Eslam in front of millions of viewers to perform "Mr.Whippy". His performance was so well received that Damon decided to take Eslam along on their world tour as an unofficial band member and performed in over 20 countries together. Soon after, Eslam would also join Cilvaringz on a 17-nation tour through Europe with the Wu-Tang Killa Beez.
Eslam was now surrounded by legendary and influential people and getting some wonderful stage experience at world-renowned venues and festivals. This inspired him to dedicate himself fully to his art. His goal with music was clear. He wanted to produce a record that was fresh and light, sounded different, spoke on different topics and reflected his political views and life experiences openly, but in a widely acceptable way.
In his song 'Star Spangled Banner' Eslam expresses his political views by artistically using an imaginary girl with a well endowed behind to represent American foreign policy. Title song 'The Mammoth Tusk', produced by Dr.Dre's right hand man Focus..., who had produced for a slew of superstars such as Beyonce, Destiny's Child, 50 Cent, J-Lo, Pink, N-Sync and many others, tells the real story of how Eslam, in his mafia days, lost out on a 1.6 Million Dollar commission for smuggling a stolen Mammoth tusk across the Syrian border into Lebanon.
On 'Alarm Cord', a track produced by Damon Albarn under the strict condition Eslam would do his part in classical Arabic, the two create yet another mysterious song which takes the listener into a cloud of unique sounds and vibes while Damon sings about the 'dancing helicopters in the sky...'. 'Tickle My Pickle' sees Eslam comically describing the exploitation of women in a commercial culture, while Wu-Tang Clan's The RZA provides a firey beat to 'So Real'.
Legendary Hip Hop group De La Soul join Eslam on 'Rewind DJ' and bring back memories of the good old Hip Hop days. And while Eminem's Radio DJs Lord Sear & Rude Jude of Sirius/Shade45 accuse Eslam of being involved in 9-11 on the album skit "It Wasn't Me...', Aftermath producer Focus... comes in again to provide a great beat to the song 'Criminuhl' in which Eslam vividly describes being mistreated by law enforcement after the 7/7 London bombings.
Eslam's life story is a unique one and so calls for a different approach to music. It is this story that has generated much interest from these major artists to participate in the production of 'The Mammoth Tusk'. And while he missed out on his 1.6 million dollar mafia deal for smuggling the stolen Mammoth tusk, the album version of 'The Mammoth Tusk' will cross more than just the Syrian border, it will be smuggled all over the world !