Odd One Out: Hoosh Is Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Image via Audible Treats

Hoosh doesn’t need to fit in because he’s so used to standing out. The Miami riser remembers keeping his music under wraps at first because of his own insecurities. “I moved around a lot growing up,” he tells Dirty Glove Bastard. “… I remember the part of Cleveland that I lived in, it wasn’t a really diverse area… And then for me to put out a rap song – I remember coming to school one day and getting clowned for it.” It also doesn’t help when academia is the bedrock of success in your own culture, and anything other than pursuing a degree is frowned upon.  

In other words, Hoosh had a tough decision to make: side with tradition, or go against the grain of everything he was taught to believe. Slowly but surely, he chose the latter, but not before calling it quits on music. Well, at least temporarily. “I knew I was moving at the end of that year, so, I was like, ‘Yo, when I go to my next school, ain’t nobody gon’ know nothin’ bout no music,’” he recalls. For the most part, he did just that, depriving himself of the very thing that made him feel whole. 

Wondering what he was doing with his life, Hoosh caught himself at a crossroads. However, a relationship he developed with a close friend helped confirm that it was time to get back to the music for good. This time around, he found himself trying to manage other artists but eventually he started to write again, rediscovering the passion in his pen. 

These days, Hoosh is hard at work creating music that he enjoys. From alt-tinged ballads like “12 Weeks,” to more inward-looking efforts in “jorja,” and the entirety of everything’s going to be alright for that matter, the Sudanese nomad is quietly becoming the best version of himself. His upbringing is just as diverse as his sonic palette, pulling inspiration from different encounters, experiences and everything in between. 

DGB spoke to Hoosh about life in the Middle East, the process behind finding his support system, relocating to Miami and how he’s considered an outcast within his own culture.

Image via Audible Treats

Talk to me about your transition from Sudan to Miami. 

When I came to Miami, I was actually living in Qatar at the time. I went to high school in Qatar and then pretty much, I was applying to schools. I wasn’t even making music like that. I would fuck around with music here and there. Lowkey, I wouldn’t tell anyone about it. 

When I ended up getting my acceptances, that’s when I started paying my attention towards Miami – and Miami was I think one of my last, if not my last, acceptance. At the time, I thought I was going to Penn State in Pennsylvania but when I got the Miami acceptance, you know, a city like Miami will halt all of your previous plans [laughs]. I had a really long conversation with my brother and basically made the decision to come to Miami over anywhere because it’s a major city and it was diverse, and it offered a well rounded set of things for me to get into. 

Why were you keeping your music to yourself?

Straight up, just insecurities, bruh. I moved around a lot growing up. In middle school, I was in Cleveland, Ohio at the time and I’d run into someone who’s now a good friend of mine. He was one of the only other kids I knew that was also super interested in music. And interested in the same music I was interested into, but on the level of making it, creating it. And he also knew how to produce and I guess engineer sessions. So, I’d go to his crib every weekend and make music, and that was the first time I thought, ‘Yo, this is something I wanna do for the rest of my life.’ 

However, when it came to putting out a song, I remember the part of Cleveland that I lived in, it wasn’t a really diverse area. It was in the suburbs of Cleveland, so there was probably four or five other Black kids in my grade. So, I stood out. And then for me to put out a rap song – I remember coming to school one day and getting clowned for it. I look back at the verse and I still stand by it. You know how it is: when you’re younger and do something different, people feel threatened by that shit. Instead of me taking it on the chin and keeping it moving, that shit kind of fucked my head up. 

I knew I was moving at the end of that year, so I was like, ‘Yo, when I go to my next school, ain’t nobody gon know nothin’ bout no music.’ I completely tucked that shit away. I already felt like the odd one out – to have something else thrown in the mix to separate me, it really fucked with my confidence. 

When did it all start to come together for you? 

Fast forward to when I’m in college, I hit some existential crisis where I didn’t know what I was doing in life. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know what I liked. I just couldn’t see myself doing any of these regular desk jobs or just these regular nine to fives. So, I started soul-searching. 

I was still rocked by that experience that happened earlier so when it was time to hop back into (music), I wanted to manage someone at first, or I wanted to be involved in the business side of things – that way I don’t get the, ‘Oh, he’s trying to be a rapper’ thing. I kind of started doing that. But once I was doing that, I started writing again, a little bit more heavily, and coincidentally (it’s almost like the universe put it together) I ended up meeting one of my close friends right now who’s doing music. He heard some of my shit and told me to take (music) seriously. I remember I would go to his crib and just make music. Whenever I felt like I didn’t wanna deal with whatever was going on at school (cause he wasn’t going to the same school as me; he was a lot older than me, too, and he was working at the time; he was almost like my big brother; I didn’t have any family in Miami, either, so, whenever I didn’t know what to do) I’d just go to his place  and make music. In doing that, it just ingrained the idea of doing music more in my head. 

Was it difficult trying to find your own support system? You were moving around a lot. 

I was blessed with my immediate family, first and foremost. Although we were scattered, we always did good with touching base with each other. My parents would throw me a ticket to come see them whenever I could. We would try to meet stateside sometimes during holidays, stuff like that. My first real support system was my immediate family: my brothers, my mom and my dad. My support system while moving around, for me, was two fold I’d say. On one side, I’ve developed this ability through moving to quickly assimilate myself to wherever the fuck I’m at. I was moving from places that are polar opposites. I grew up the majority of my life as a kid in Saudi Arabia. Then, I moved to the states, right? Those are like polar opposites, as far as perspective, lay of the land, what the culture is like. I know how to make friends really quickly – I have a very social personality; almost too social sometimes… I hate being alone kind of thing. 

On the other side… shit, I’d say God and the universe. Just having faith in something higher than myself. (For those times when you don’t know the answer to the next question.) I guess spirituality in general. I’m not super religious or anything but I believe in something that connects all of us. I feel like all of these religions are different explanations of something similar. And (faith) is something that helped me for sure. 

How do you work so many different sounds into your music? 

Even on that tone, I got two older brothers. The one right above – the middle of us three – was heavy into rock when I was younger. He didn’t even fuck with rap at the time. I got influenced heavily by that and it opened my ears to be able to enjoy that type of music and dive deeper into that. 

My older brother covered all these bases as far as R&B and Hip-hop. He was cognizant enough in the 90s to pick up on all that music, which I feel like has a heavy influence on my music today. I’ve been put onto a lot of different music. 

And then, when you grow up in these countries in the Middle East, if you’re not from that country and you’re an American citizen, you’re usually gonna go to an international school, or an American international school, or a British-system international school. And when you do that, you’re going to have a ton of different people from different nationalities. My high school in Qatar had sixty different nationalities. I had people from Colombia, different spots in Africa, Asia, areas in the Middle East. We even had a decent Morman population at my high school: all bases were covered. With that comes everybody’s taste in music and culture in general, so you kind of pick up on all that. I love music without thinking about genres. If I hear a song and it’s a good song, even if I don’t know the words, if I hear a melody that I like or something that pierces through, I’ma enjoy it.

What was the inspiration behind ‘Slow Dance’? This song could pass the strip club vibe check, easily. 

I had an experience with A, a dancer, and B, girls who work jobs that had a similar connotation to that. And when I say connotation, it’s not what I believe in but what the world views it as. ‘Oh, I don’t think this is a good job,’ or like a sustainable job. There’s a lot of negatives that come with it. 

Whether a girl is a dancer or doing something like OnlyFans, whatever it may be, people have their perspective on it. I had a friend who was a dancer and I tapped in with her to get her perspective on it, and then someone else who was doing something similar. I started to realize that everyone has their own judgement, their own opinion, but no one knows what the fuck someone is going through. No one knows why someone got to that point. 

On top of all that, it’s like who are we to judge, bro? Who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong? The only thing you know is that most of us don’t know anything [laughs]. We’re just tryna figure it out day by day. Not that I carry any preconceived beliefs or anything, but it was an eye-opening experience to have a conversation with someone and get their perspective and see what led to the decision that they had to make. (‘Slow Dance’) is more so a reflection of a couple of conversations that I had with different people. The song is just to address one specific person, but there were a couple of different people that I had this conversation with. 

In the midst of having these different conversations with people, what did you learn about yourself? 

First and foremost, man, I felt like… in a way, I could relate. Because in my culture – I’m Sudanese – but where I grew up, culturally (and I don’t know if any of y’all have ever had experience in African culture) it’s not really um… especially with the older generation, like my parents – it’s not looked at as a good thing to be a musician. It’s kind of looked at as, ‘Yo, something is up with this person.’ 

You do have your anomalies that broke through and had major success and shut people up. But even then, it’s not the same type of respect a doctor would get, or a lawyer, or a dentist. There was more of an emphasis placed on academia. So, with me being the person that I am – from my piercings to my dreads to the music that I make, to the way I just move around in life – it’s different. And I’m sure (now and before) that a lot of people have judged me for the decisions that I made and had their own opinions on it. But nobody in that subset of people ever came up to me and asked why I did what I did, or got the notion of what music does for me. What’s my reasoning behind doing it; what’s gotten me to do it; what my life was like beforehand. I feel like most things aren’t black and white. 

If you’re just living your life how you wanna live it and you’re not hurting anybody, you’re just making your money and getting your shit together, who are we to judge? I learned that I was open-minded enough to have this conversation and walk away with a broader perspective, and also the fact that I relate to them. I’m not a dancer [laughs] but I’m used to being the odd one out. Knowing how it feels to be that person that sticks out for something that might not be viewed as ‘good.’ 

It’s almost like you’re considered an outcast in your own culture. When that comes to mind, why are you willing to be judged by others just for music?

I’ll be honest with you, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Everything’s been moving super fast and going in a great direction, so I’ve really been reflecting on how I’ve gotten to this position and what’s my purpose behind it. I’d say it’s a couple different things, but the main thing for me is A, the natural inclination I got towards (music). I remember my mom would tell me a story about this lullaby she would sing to me when I was a kid. Before I could even talk, when she would try to sing another melody, I would stop her – either with my hand or by making a noise. I’d get her to go back to that other lullaby. 

Ever since I was a kid, I had an inclination to be into music and be specific about what I like. As soon as I could move, I started singing, dancing, all those types of things. My grandma asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said, ‘I want to be a singer.’ She was like, ‘Oh no, you can’t be a singer. We don’t do that. That’s not appropriate.’ And that’s because they think about the lifestyle that comes with it, ya know. And I was too young to understand what I was saying really. That type of art always spoke to me. So, my true belief is that the only way you can have a positive impact on this world is living through love. How can you live through love if you’re waking up and doing something that you hate every single day? How can you possibly be your best version? And this isn’t to down anybody that’s doing a nine to five – I understand completely. I was getting real spiritual at the time and putting my faith towards the law of attraction.

And to go forward now, I’m realizing that the way I came up; the family I was raised in; the music I’ve been making; the people I have on my team – all of these blessings, it would be a shame if I didn’t use them to the best of my ability. I owe it to the world to do something positive with my music and I’m figuring that out everyday. My main MO is to meet people that feel like they are mediocre in life. I wanna touch people and let them know that I was in their same position. In me finding music, that’s when I started to learn about myself. That’s when I started to realize my true power. You just gotta put in the work to find that out.

About the Author

Derrius Edwards
Derrius is a music industry professional with experience in content strategy and editorial writing, sharing relevant and resonating stories as a conduit for hip-hop culture advancement.

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