Text Messages is the first multi-genre collection by Montreal-based Iraqi hip-hop artist, activist, and professor Yassin "Narcy" Alsalman. Composed entirely on a smartphone during air travel and married to artwork from comrades, Narcy 's writing speaks of the existential crises experienced by diasporic children of war before and during imperialism in the age of the Internet.
Narcy 's verses span the space between hip-hop and manifesto, portraying a crumbling, end-stage capitalist society, visions for a new reality, and exposes the myth of multiculturalism in post-9/11 North America. The wordsmith hollows and transmogrifies the grotesque excess of the West by juxtaposing McLife with images of death, destruction, and trauma in the East.
From the depths of apathetic consumerism arises a voice of spiritual self-realization that explodes the misrepresented, mythical monolith of Islam in the West and with the rubble builds healing through intelligent resistance and radical love.
"Young boys and girls trapped in Walmarts-- our consumer interim camps. A family-friendly, discounted freedom. You don 't see what the Internet can 't. Not our land or home. Not your mans or holmes. Not your towers or domes. Not your power or drones."
“Passion, pain, anger, hope, and swagger. Yassin is a man from the future. Narcy beautifully captures the chaotic multitudes of being a brown diaspora kid living through the war on terror in the technology age. Text Messages is an ambitious and bold time capsule capturing the insane times we're living through. Poems, barbs, and bars — take a bow, Yassin, you've made a classic.”
“Yassin ‘Narcy’ Alsalman is a one-of-a-kind artist. He is transcendental, he is pop, he is the Muslim, he is the poet. Through his questioning of the tides of time, and the world's disregard of the Arab, he writes lyrics as anthem, providing a source material for a part of the world that is so often misunderstood and forgotten. This book is exciting in its futurity. It is punchy in its enthusiasm. I am grateful for this book's aliveness.”
—Fariha Róisín, author, How To Cure a Ghost
“Yassin Alsalman's writing weaves through the epic struggles of people to get free, enduring and resisting brutality, dictatorship, war, and occupation. As a hip-hop artist, he was forged in the rubble of 9/11 and the ensuing war against Muslims, emerging as one of the most creative and sharp artists chronicling the crimes of the powerful and giving voice to people’s uprisings. Text Messages is a potent book rooted in the poetry and art of Alsalman’s Iraqi ancestors, translated in a global language for the urgency of the times in which we now live.”
—Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept and author of Blackwater and Dirty Wars
“Narcy’s voice cuts through the rubble piled high in the wake of Amerikkka’s ‘War on Terror,’ a true testament to hip-hop’s intersectional revolutionary power and an unapologetic representation of the Muslim world in the 21st century’s most ubiquitous art form.”
“Yassin ‘Narcy’ Alsalman in Text Messages: or How I found Myself Time Traveling reveals the fertile space of the in-between. This book is neither prose nor poetry—rather it is a constant speculative unflowering. The poet novas from the between space: that time of physical journey, writing on plane rides, sketches a life forged by that very consciousness rooted to both heaven and body. Where does the brown, migrant Muslim belong? The skies take form as the speaker sails through experiments with genre and form to tell the story of multiple definitions, of how the speaker endures in a world obsessed with his destruction. From poem to prose, from image to graphic narrative, this urgent, necessary book will streak your heart with its resistance. Kindness and living are political acts. Reader, you will find yourself haunted by the question the poet asks himself while he looks past your eyes and into your own depths, What is life without if in it?”
—Rajiv Mohabir, author of The Cowherd’s Son and The Taxidermist’s Cut
“Yassin Alsalman possesses one of the most important voices in the world, and Text Messages could not be more timely or more necessary of a read. On paper, this Muslim teacher who raps should not be a success, but because of the beauty of his words and the pureness of his heart, he wins despite the massive odds against him. Narcy makes me feel heard, he gives me life. I am proud to be his friend and his peer.”