“We feel a certain responsibility to seize the opportunities that we’ve been given”

Radar met with rapper Parham to talk about his music, debut album and inspiration. He recently won Hip Hop of the year at Manifestgalan and is nominated in four different categories at Kingsizegalan the 27th of February.

Last year Parham released his debut album Pojk that’s about childhood, origin and the normalization of the macho man. The album made a huge impact on the Swedish hip hop scene and has received amazing feedback and several nominations since then. The Gothenburg bound rapper started releasing mixtapes and singles several years prior to the big album release but it was the single Snäll Kille in 2014 that made him noticed.  Come 2015 he has several exciting new projects in the making and in March he’ll be having his first solo concert at debaser medis in Stockholm.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
– Right now I’m a fulltime musician but before that I was working in an office and studying. Even though my parents wanted me to be an engineer they’ve always supported my musical side and encouraged me to  play instruments and perform. But the past year, 2014, was about my debut album Pojk. Before that I had only released some mixtapes because I never really had the time to make an album. But then I became unemployed so I just sat in the studio for 10 months and gave it a real chance for the first time. And that’s kind of when it all started.

What’s the album about?
– The album is about my childhood and a boy’s insecurities, especially when it comes to fit into the macho man image, and that combination hit close to home for a lot of people. The critics wrote about the album as something that created a new narrative within Swedish hip hop and a new type of honesty within rap, that’s usually pretty tough and hard. And also focusing on the perspective of the outsiders/underdogs on an individual level. So that’s me, right here, right now. And I hope to stay here.

How has your music developed since you first started? Are there certain subjects that you focus on now that you didn’t before?
– Since I first started I’ve become a lot more real and honest, before I didn’t have that courage to fully be myself. I’ve always believed that it has to sound a certain way to fit into the hip hop mould. Later on I started to write about themes that haven’t been written about before. For an example, subjects that means a lot to me but that other  necessarily  can’t relate to. At the same time I’m not an extreme person but that’s what’s changed the most about my music. That I’m able to be myself now.

I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop shaking before I’ve uploaded my music

Have you ever been nervous releasing a song?
– Oh yeah, all of them! My entire album, all the songs and singles before that. I’ve been so nervous! I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop shaking before I’ve uploaded my music to Facebook. I’ve shut down the laptop, went out side for a run for hours before I’ve been able to get back to it, because I’m so scared of people’s reactions

What makes nervous? People’s reactions to the lyrics?
– I’m pretty sensitive to people’s opinions and that’s something that I really have to work with. To not care so much and I do have my ways of doing so, I enter my bubble while working and I don’t spend too much time on social media. When it comes to recognition like people coming up to me on the street or winning an award, we all need that, and that can sometimes go back to our childhood, who was present and who wasn’t.

Who do you look up to?
– People who do their thing without giving a damn. Like musicians who, even though no one in the audience is really feeling it, are still doing their thing because they’re so passionate about what they do. I get inspired by people outside of the music scene as well, who have big personalities. And especially the ones who are convincing, that’s so beautiful and rubs off on to other people. Because that convincement is power, no one will ever believe in you until you believe in yourself. Because we need people who will spread positive energy so that we can feed off it. Negative energy can be extremely dangerous since it effects so many people and their actions. But at the same time it’s all up to you! You have to decide how you handle negative feelings and events, you’re in charge of your own approach.

You’re nominated at Kingsizegalan, how does that feel?
– It feels really good, especially since I’m nominated in four different categories, Solo Artist of the Year, Breakthrough of the Year, Album of the Year and Video of the year. And of course I’m grateful since it’s Sweden’s biggest hip hop magazine.

My lyrics and creations will always remind me of what I’ve accomplished

Even though you wouldn’t win any of the awards, isn’t it still pretty satisfying to have been nominated?
– Of course, but there’s also a side to it that bothers me if I may say so. When you’ve been so successful for a while thoughts like “Will I be able to go the distance and make it last? Maybe it was just pure luck? Or maybe it was just timing?” starts to occur. As you understand, it’s a lot of self- doubt involved but at the same time I have to take a step back and look at what I’ve created. My lyrics and my creations will always remind of what I’ve accomplished, which is something that I should know by now but sometimes it’s difficult.

Your song I skuggan av hjältar focuses on parents who has fled from their countries in order to create better lives for their children and how the next generation should be grateful in return. I feel though as the next generation often lacks motivation. How do you think that we could motivate them?
– To offer them the kind of perspective that the song does. I actually received an e-mail the other day that was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. It was from a boy who had had lots of problems in school and with people around him. He was basically at the end of the road and didn’t feel like making anything out of his life when he came across the song. Which made his motivation grow and find the will to fight for his future.

– I think we feel a certain responsibility when we come from a background of warfare, or exclusion, to seize the opportunities that we’ve been given. The opportunities that our parents never had. At the same time it’s pretty naïve to think that a song can change everything, the problems that we’re facing today are much more complex. But great teachers can really make a difference, it means a lot when someone believes in you and gives you credit when you’re progressing. Even if it’s about at the smallest things, it matters to be seen and feel appreciated.

What’s next for you?
– To continue working hard, we have a tour that’s coming up in Sweden and perhaps in Norway this spring and summer. I’ll be having my very own concert at Debaser Medis for the first time here in Stockholm the 13th of March. We’ll have a live band and some guest performers. I’ll also be launching some clothes and focusing on some other fun projects, both musical and non- musical.


Photo by: Patrick Vincent

Watch the video for “Lova mig själv” that is nominated at Kingesizegalan for Video of the Year.