Inside Look: Nadir
Posted: 2/15/2008

Everyone’s approach to life is just a little bit different than the next cat. Some of us need to isolate and conquer, one task at a time, in order to get where we’re going.

Don’t lump Nadir Omowale in that group.

To say that the East Tennessee transplant to Detroit is busy these days would be a serious understatement. Nadir juggles the responsibilities of running a company and involvement in various causes and organizations, all the while playing his award-winning music with his band Nadir’s Distorted Soul.

Topping it all off is his current stint with MTV as the Choose or Lose 2008 correspondent to the state of Michigan, which lasts until the presidential election in November.

DFP caught up with the ultra-motivated multi-threat himself to learn a little bit more about the man.

DFP: When did you decide to pursue music, both professionally and emotionally?

Nadir: I got serious about music when I was fourteen years old. Against much advice and criticism, and sometimes against my own better judgment, I continue to walk that path. It's been a professional venture since high school, though I've been a starving artist at different points throughout.

Emotionally? I often say being a musician is like being addicted to crack. It's not the most beneficial lifestyle, but if you're really hooked, it's hard to put it down. I'm still on the pipe.

DFP: Who has inspired you musically and in your life?

Nadir: My first influences were my family. My mother still plays piano in church. My brother played trumpet and bass, which were my first two instruments – he is the guy who learns a new musical instrument every two years just for the fun of it. He's currently learning saxophone. I have many cousins who play, including one who was Barry White's drummer for a time. My dad didn't play, but he loved everything from soul to blues to country.

Around the house my brother was listening to P-Funk, Kiss, Chicago and a lot of disco. I remember being mesmerized by Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly" soundtrack. "Freddie's Dead" tripped me out, and the artwork was extremely compelling to my very young mind.

I got a lot of hip hop late because there was no radio station in East Tennessee that played Black music at the time, and we didn't get cable until I was older. My cousin in Knoxville would send me cassettes that he taped off the radio so I could stay almost up to date.

At 14, I was listening to Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Prince, The Time, Cameo, Van Halen, Hall and Oates and lots of old records that were laying around the house. Later I got into Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, John Coltrane, Public Enemy, Gil Scott-Heron, A Tribe Called Quest, Me' Shell Ndegeocello, and the list goes on and on.

DFP: What messages do you wish to pass on to those who come across your work and music?

Nadir: First of all, the art of music is about exploration – self exploration, universal exploration. It's about seeking the truth or seeking new truths. It sounds kind of idealistic, but that's me. I don't do this because I make a lot of money at it, that's for sure.

Lyrically, I write about the world around me and, I don't know about you, but my world involves a lot more than going to the club, having sex and driving a car with 22-inch rims.

Musically, I love all types of music, so I don't like to be pigeon-holed into one category. This is why I incorporate jazz, funk, rock, blues, folk, afro beat, techno, whatever I feel at the moment. That doesn't fit the traditional music industry model unfortunately. This philosophy has translated to my business as well, so I do a lot of different stuff business wise as well.

DFP: Aside from Distorted Soul, what else are you involved in?

Nadir: Too much. My company, Eclipse America Productions, Inc. (EAPro - www.eapro.net) is a media services company. We do everything from recording, to music publishing, to marketing, to media consulting, to running our own indie record label. Current and former clients include Detroit's Music Hall, The Michigan Citizen Newspaper, and several independent recording artists.

EAPro is releasing a new album from a tremendous Detroit hip hop artist and activist named Khary "WAE" Frazier. WAE is a bad dude, and he's got some serious music straight outta 12th Street.

I'm very excited about a project we're working on with a new musical instrument manufacturer based in Nashville called Beat Kangz Electronics. They are going to revolutionize the world of musical electronics and marketing with their new products. Stay tuned for that.

The 1440 Collective is a group of companies that have come together to open a new facility in Detroit's Eastern Market. The multi-purpose space has three recording studios, and we do rentals for rehearsals, photo and video shoots, and parties. Omni office services are soon to come.

Change::The Music (www.changethemusic.net) is a non-profit organization that I founded with Christopher Land of Landmine Design. Our goal is to connect musicians and other artists with social justice and political organizations.

I have been active in the movement to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. We need more than oversight hearings. We need action to bring these criminals to justice for their role in waging an illegal war based on lies and deceit.

I blog at www.bluestalkin.com, though this year most of my blogs will be links to my reports for MTV's Street Team '08.

And I'm married to my best friend, staunchest ally and harshest critic, Akanke. That's a full-time job as well. We're celebrating our ninth anniversary this week (Feb. 14).

DFP: Talk a little about being chosen by MTV for Choose or Lose 2008. How has that experience been so far?

Nadir: Working with MTV News has been incredible so far! It's a great opportunity, an awesome responsibility and a lot of fun. I'm adding another skill set, so by the end of the year, I'll be a full-fledged video journalist. I am one of 51 correspondents in each of the 50 states and DC. MTV News has assembled a strong, diverse group for this initiative. Check out some of the reports at www.streetteam08.com.

My latest piece for MTV is a series called "Loving Detroit, Leaving Detroit" where I profile a few of the bright young minds who are leaving the state in search of more opportunity. What is telling about this story is that some of these folks are just packing up and moving to another city with no job or even job prospects somewhere else. Their rationale? The economy can't be any worse there than it is here. This is troubling, and those of us who are here have a lot of work to do to create the compelling culture and industries that will make people want to stay or relocate here.

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To hear Nadir’s Distorted Soul and get more information about his various projects, go to www.distortedsoul.com.

With this state facing probably its most important election in many years, Nadir is looking to Michiganders for help in his coverage. To offer ideas and support, you can reach him at think2008@distortedsoul.com.