Around two years ago, Saudi-Ecuadorian artist Mishaal recorded a couple of demos on an Xbox microphone and uploaded them to YouTube and by sheer luck and the will of the worldwide web, the demos quickly amassed a couple million views.
Eighteen months, a move to New York City and a deal with Sony later and the kid is teetering on the brink of global chill-hop stardom. Yes, chill-hop is a thing.
A cutesy video for his breakout hit “Friends” featuring our homie Powfu, introduced him on a global scale, and after he dropped his debut EP Life’s A Ride last month, he’s got two sneaky collabs with Kina and Noah Cyrus to wrap up his power year.
He’s set himself apart with a cleverly-crafted, soothing strain of pop, taking advantage of the wildly inclusive genre it has slowly become, and is carving out his own niche within the sleek hook-riddled scene.
Mishaal’s is a lo-fi, minimalist chill-hop sound – pivoted off the home-recording style he built his name with – only sleeker now and packed with muted synth, acoustic undertones and honeyed vocals to make it shine.
Life’s A Ride is a narrative of just that: a 13-minute beat-driven chronicle of the erroneous ups and downs of an existence. A lick of multi-lingual exoticism also sets him apart as he weaves English, Arabic and Spanish into his lyricism without missing a beat, unraveling stories of childhood icons who made him (“Bruce Lee”), monsters of addiction lurking behind close doors (“Mister Mister”) and the importance of homies in a time of isolation (“Friends”).
There’s a new wave of kids making all the power moves in the industry lately and Mishaal has joined the ranks of those pushing the envelope to make his own unique perspective heard.