Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Positivity, confidence, and persistence: are all keys this next artist used to consistently open new doors. Inspired by lyrical geniuses like J. Cole, Drake, Janelle Monáe, Kanye West, and Pharrell, the Neo Elite presents to you, the brilliant lyrical Hip-Hop artist Kassim.
Kassim was born and raised in D.C. from Elementary School to Middle School. However, with the increase of D.C’s living cost it became expensive for his mother, leaving her to relocate the family to P.G. County, Maryland in 2008.
As a toddler, Kassim played the Nigerian instrument, talking drum, and developed a rhythm and natural cadence over time with practice. Despite his love for the instrument, Kassim soon quit after being made fun of by others during a show-&- tell. Going home that day, he recalled his father telling him, “You're going to go back to music because that’s your passion.” Consequently, that’s exactly what happened!
The move out of D.C during the start of his teenage years, was the shove Kassim ultimately needed. He stated, “It was the best decision my mom could have made because my foundation for music sharpened during that time.” In High School, Kassim was surrounded by talented individuals and soon met his fellow “20NVR” record label mates as well. “If I didn’t meet them, I wouldn’t be pushing myself so hard,” he stated. Before you know it, Kassim was rap battling in the hallways, and gradually increasing his confidence as a rapper day by day. “High School was definitely a life changing moment,” Kassim stated.
Although High School was a significant moment, Kassim didn’t take music seriously until he was 21. In college, he was majoring in biology and was miserable because he wasn’t living for himself. “Being Nigerian, most people will tell you to be a doctor, but I wanted to be a rapper,” stated Kassim. Soon enough, he made the decision to major in business instead, after reading Jay-Z’s book, “Decoded.” Once Kassim did that, he was content and saw a way he could align with his true passion. Rapping.
However, his mom was devastated by the change and, unfortunately, kicked him out of the house. Well, that didn’t stop him, Kassim continued pursuing what he felt was right regardless of the outcome.
When it comes to his musical style, Kassim stated he’s a hybrid of 30 different rappers and differentiate from others because he’s the source of every initial creative idea. When it comes to his style, he approaches it in an unpredictable way for listeners and with integrity. You never know what you might get, because it highly depends on the structure and beat of the song. “It allows me to have the freedom to be me and not shadow [another artist], Kassim stated. He continues to write music to empower others and create timeless, “food for the soul” tunes.
Regarding the DMV music scene, Kassim thinks the area is the next musical mecca. “We have Rico Nasty, Logic, YNB Cordea, Odd Mojo, Ari Lennox, and more, we’re not going to stop, and I feel like more people are going to start paying attention,” Kassim stated. He also appreciates the new digital world and what it's done for all artists.
One of his favorite performances by far has been at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Kassim shared that the person who booked Kendrick Lamar two years prior told Kassim that he hasn’t seen a more prolific performance before his. Another venue Kassim loved, was headlining at Towson University, right across the street from his old dorm. “It was emotional for me, and It really put everything into perspective. I’m glad the DMV helped grow me into the performer I am today,” as said by Kassim.
Two years from now, Kassim has a goal to collaborate with countless artists and release a “classic” album. He also strives to perform at many more music festivals, headline his own national tour, and join the upcoming class of the XXL Freshman list. In all, Kassim wishes to have inner peace with family, happiness, and to become a millionaire.
Aside from music, he takes a vast amount of interest in fashion and has created his own successful merch line by the name of “Kassim.” He also stated he’s “obsessed with visuals,” Although he may not physically shoot the films, Kassim takes pride in the creative pull and aesthetics of it all. Lastly, He finds passion in watching interviews of artists he admires, “I will watch an interview anywhere, whether I’m brushing my teeth or in the shower; it keeps motivated,” Kassim stated.
When it comes to advice for aspiring artists, he would tell them to, “Learn yourself, then once you learn yourself, know yourself, and once you know yourself, be yourself!” It took Kassim ten years to understand and undergo the process of finding who he is, so be patient and accept that timing is key. “Anyone can rap and tell a story, but once I started embracing my flaws and strength, others started to embrace me.” In conclusion, continue to find your authentic self and embrace the stumbles along your path.
Read more about Kassim with a closer look below.
Looking back, what has been your worst job to date and why?
My worst job to date was working at Mcdonalds; It was so depressing, especially for only $40 bucks a day.
The Mcdonalds I worked at attracted many homeless people and some with mental disorders. I remember this one guy would make a huge mess by throwing food everywhere, and I had to clean it up every time.
After the final straw, Kassim quit.
[This is the pg-13 case of what Kassim endured]
What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?
My biggest pet peeve is insufficient communication from someone that initially wanted to communicate. For example, people will hit me up first but once I reply they leave me on read. That really irks me!
As well as, people that don’t try to understand another's perspective.
If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
If I didn’t have to sleep, I would listen to more music or take notes and study more documentaries/Youtube on famous brands.
Would you rather Win $50,000 or let your best friend win $500,000?
Well, this is going to sound weird, but I don’t believe in the lottery. Therefore, I would let my best friend win $500,000. I would just have to work and get my own money.
( I then asked Kassim why he didn’t believe in the lottery.)
I don’t believe in the lottery because even if one individual wins a large amount of money, the people higher up made 3x that from individuals playing the lottery in all. It’s a scam.
If you're having bad day, what is something you often to do to turn things around?
If I’m having a bad day to turn things around, I will listen to instrumental music and write to it as a form of expression. I also enjoy going on long walks, reading, and surrounding myself with friends.
What song do you currently have on replay?
Louis Armstrong has been getting me through most of my days. Other than that, “Sandstorm” by Mereba featuring JID, “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day. As well as, “Childs Play” by Drake and “Sexy Lady” by UCB.
Magnified Topic of the Week: Kassim’s “Nutritious” single ft. Hasani
After being inspired by the marriage of his childhood friend, and his cousin’s engagement party, Kassim took in all the love he was surrounded by and created a love song. To kickstart the writing process, Kassim for two months watched romantic films and paid close attention to the different soundtracks.
It’s safe to say, you can feel the love with this hit! Be sure to listen below and tune into “Nutritious” on streaming platforms!
Written by Dejah Moné