Omar Kenawy ‘23, who records music under the name Big Homie, released his first EP, Dream With Me or Chase After Me, in September. Throughout its 14-and-a-half-minute run time, Kenawy’s hip-hop EP covers difficult and sensitive topics including despair, defeat, and heartbreak, and ultimately, acceptance.
Though not inspired by any particular current event, Kenawy was largely influenced by the state of the world as a whole in his production. “2020 was so crazy, that I felt like I had to match its energy and do something even crazier: open up. It is safe to say that feeling like the end of the world was here may have pushed me forward a bit,” said Kenawy. “Heartbreak, depression, anxiety, suicide, and loneliness were huge motives to step outside of my comfort zone.”
On the opening track, “Don’t Go (I’ll Feel Alone),” Kenawy gently pleads not to be left behind in a toxic relationship, “I thought it was the toxic relationship between me and somebody else, however, hindsight 20/20, I realized that the toxic relationship was really between me and myself. Anyone who has struggled with some of these difficult issues such as self-loathing can relate, and that is why issues surrounding mental health can be super sensitive.” As the EP progresses through “Next Life” and “Stumblin’ Searchin’,” he addresses these feelings of worthlessness and defeat, discussing them as a means to finding purpose in his life.
“Call Me” sees Kenawy expressing his frustration with the situation, and his regrets about the now unchangeable past. And finally, in the closing track, “Inner Peace,” he reflects on how although he has experienced a great deal of pain, he has ultimately grown and been transformed for the better because of it.
“It is honestly hard to name one of the songs as a particular favorite,” Kenawy said. “Next Life has a bounce to it, but the beat for Inner Peace is riffy and unorthodox. Everyone has a different favorite, and I’m super proud of myself for making the project as is.”
In the process of creating the project, Kenawy carefully sifted through over 2,500 beats to find the perfect five he would use for his songs. In addition to writing and performing each track, he also co-produced the mixtape with friend and fellow rising artist Andy the Chef, who features on “Inner Peace.” Both artists worked on the EP in the last weeks of September, completing all their recording within 72 hours.
Kenawy published the EP under his self-owned record label, OK Productions. “My vision for the company dances between it being some sort of mix between a music label and a film making studio, simply put, I want to create something that motivates and inspires others to make art. I am currently on the lookout to work with creatives such as artists and movie makers! To distribute my work, I paid a professional music distributor to send the project to online stores,” he said. “I supplied 100% of the cash to fund the project in its entirety. I did not think it was appropriate to have anyone else bear the brunt of that creative responsibility, and of course, I have to give Andy the Chef his fair shake for his beyond professional work.”
“I see this as the very beginning of my career. I already view the project as amateur, and I know I can do even better. I doubted my decision to release so early, and I was tempted to quit, however, if it motivates and inspires the people near me to keep going, then I will simply have to keep moving forward. I have a few ideas for some singles that will dwarf the success and versatility of my EP drop,” said Kenawy, who is eagerly looking toward the future. “My plan moving forward is to be creative, unpredictable, be different, genuinely me, and to just have fun while I’m making my music. I have so many singles to choose from that I’m struggling to narrow my options of release. Lots of big things are coming. I’m so excited for the day that I can perform on campus!”