Kareem pens therapeutic lyrics of spiritual elevation
By Rory Sharrock
Aiya Kareem’s crafted lyrics are rooted in holistic healing and sensuality.
The inspiration behind her music serves as a positive outlet for self-therapy. They also cause a physical chain reaction with simultaneous head nodding and toe-tapping.
This has been a way of life for the Dutch-born singer/songwriter from early childhood. It remains true to form for her as a mature adult.
Kareem is a native of Haarlem, Netherlands. This city is located 12 miles east of Amsterdam.
Her Algerian bloodlines is the springboard for her global sound. As a kid, Kareem was always singing, dancing, writing and playing Algerian-themed beats as a percussionist.
Along with this flavor, Kareem’s western musical inspirations are Whitney Houston and, most notably, Michael Jackson and Bob Marley.
“Michael Jackson did it all with singing and dancing. Bob Marley just feels like home. If I’m in a bad mood, I’ll put on some Bob Marley and feel good. Bob Marley is a prophet. Anywhere I go, and I hear Bob Marley, I feel at home,” Kareem said.
Aside from enjoying Jackson’s creativity, Kareem identifies with the late King of Pop due to her diagnosis of vitiligo. Jackson suffered from the same ailment that covered his entire body.
Because of the outward appearance, vitiligo used to be a source of embarrassment for Kareem. She was teased and used to work hard to hide the discoloration.
The trickle-down effect of bullying carried into adulthood. She applied extra makeup around her mouth to camouflage the spots from her condition.
Kareem no longer harbors those negative self-conscious emotions. Today, she embraces it as a badge of beauty.
“I used to cover it up until March 2020. There are a lot of pictures where you don’t really see it,” Kareem said. “I used to think it was ugly. But when stars such as Winnie Harlow, because they’re different, it gives a lot of power to people.”
In addition to her diverse musical and ethnic background, Kareem has a broad approach to spirituality.
Her mother was raised Catholic and her father is a Muslim. According to Islam, when there are different faiths between the parents, the child is considered a Muslim.
Growing up, Kareem attended a Christian school in her neighborhood. This makes her knowledgeable in the Bible and Quran.
However, she describes herself as “homeless” regarding religion.
“I believe in God, but I don’t have a religion. I haven’t found a religion that sticks with me. There’s only one God in my opinion. It doesn’t matter what religion you have,” Kareem said.
Music during the pandemic
Although she doesn’t fully practice a specific doctrine, Kareem adores the core spirituality of Christianity and Islam.
“Sometimes I wish I had one. I think it’s so beautiful to pray during Ramadan and go to the mosque. On the other hand, it’d be good to go to church and sing gospel music. I really love gospel music. It can make me cry like a baby,” she said.
Kareem is working on new material with plans to release an EP. She also wants to submit songs for artists to perform on their albums.
Her upcoming project would be a follow-up to the period-piece anthem, “City on Lockdown.” The song is an ode to love and loneliness during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
On the hook, Kareem expresses the hurt and uncertainty as the virus spreads rapidly. She laments a wish of taking her lover home to avoid being separated.
“Whole city on lockdown. When will I see you again? Tonight, I gotta to fly out. If only I could take you with me. We would take our love overseas. I’m feeling right when it’s you and me.”
Kareem was in Los Angeles when the shutdown occurred. She then flew to New York before returning to Amsterdam.
Looking at the once vibrant scene in New York transformed into a desolate area was depressing. Upon the suggestion of a producer, she penned the song to bring about a sense of calmness.
“While I was in New York, the city was empty. I’ve never seen a ghost city in my life. It gave me a lot of anxiety. I was crying and my producer said let’s go to the studio. We went and created that song,” she said.
Although she’s away from several peers and colleagues, Kareem maintains communication with individuals in the music industry. She frequently hosts and participates in rooms on the Clubhouse app.
Click this link to hear the full interview on the UnStoppable with Lequita Sharrock podcast: https://unstoppablewithlequitasharrock.libsyn.com/ep-14-music-unites-love-heals-pt-1.