The new album by the eighteen-year-old singer from Jordan features a collaboration with Danna Paola and Alok of his viral song, Hadal Ahbek.
The name Issam Alnajjar might not sound familiar at first, but as soon as your hear the famous chorus of his global hit, “Hadal Ahbek,” you will know who he is.
While his debut song will raise your serotonin levels from the very first note, its creation stems from a time when Issam felt quite lonely. When he was younger his family traveled to America, temporarily leaving him alone at home in Jordan. It’s safe to say Issam put his down time to good use.
Music had always been a recurring thought, and the sudden amounts of time he had in his hands was enough for him to give it a try. This is when we get a first taste of Issam’s determination. After countless hours watching Youtube tutorials, he managed to learn how to play the guitar. Looking back, the success he experienced overnight had nothing to do with luck.
In 2020, Issam Alnajjar posted his first video on Tiktok: a cover of "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra. While the app’s algorithm continues to be an enigma, it is known to recognize true talent. Overnight, the video captured the attention of thousands of users in Jordan, granting Issam his first taste of internet fame.
Right after, he posted what would be come his first hit, "Hadal Ahbek."
“I used to sing a lot in English, so when I started singing in Arabic, people went crazy. They actually liked it. I hadn’t expected them to love it as much,” he said about Jordan’s response to "Hadal Ahbek."
Once he caught wind that his first song in Arabic sparked interest, he went on to record the song. Still hesitant about the real possibility of a music career, his goal was to reach ten thousand views on TikTok. The video easily surpassed that in the first day.
Things progressed quickly from there. As more people listened to and loved the song, influencers and artists that Issam admired started to promote it as well. In his case, virality gave Issam’s music exposure, but it was his talent and authentic passion for making music that kickstarted his career.
Then something incredible happened.
“This girl took the sound, slowed it down, and added reverb. Her video got 47 million views overnight. That was when I realized the song was going to be big,” Issam recalled with excitement.
With its growing popularity on the internet, "Hadal Ahbek" captured the attention of the biggest artists in the industry. Enter Alok, the renowned Brazilian DJ with an eye for talent.
“Alok saw the song was number one globally in Shazam and also in Brazil. He contacted my team because he wanted to make a spanish remix. We wanted a female Latin artist, and we thought only if it was Danna Paola. That collaboration was so important because I love Alok and I’m a huge fan of Danna Paola. As a kid from Jordan, this is a huge deal for me,” Issam said.
The spanish version is titled “Si Tu Vuelas” and features the original vocals and chorus from Issam, mixed in with Spanish verses written by Danna Paola. Issam traveled to Mexico to shoot the music video with Danna, who he now considers a close friend and someone he looks up to. This collaboration proved to be successful. Not only did it happen as Issam’s career continues to rise, but with millions of followers on social media, Danna Paola is considered to be one of the biggest pop stars in Latin America right now.
In 2021, international music making rounds in America is not a strange concept. The rise of genres like K-Pop have forged strong and loyal fan bases in the States, allowing for new sounds to make it big. In this case, "Hadal Ahbek" might be the first song in Arabic that people across the globe have connected to in such a deep level.
According to Issam, the song's relatability comes from the joyful, catchy tune. Under the sound on Tiktok, you’ll find thousands of videos that radiate positivity. Even when the song has reached countries that may not understand the lyrics, it injects our phones with serotonin while raising awareness of a new genre.
“I used to see videos where not a lot of people were understanding [the lyrics] but everyone was feeling it,” he said.
Now, Issam hopes to convey the same sentiment with his new musical child. The fourteen-track album with songs mostly in Arabic is a tribute to the artist’s roots. The lyrics and music come from a personal place, which Issam hopes that fans can relate to. A mere week after its release, BAREE? has been making headlines and paving the way for a new genre of Arabic Pop, which Issam lovingly refers to as A-Pop.
He’s undoubtedly pioneer this movement.
Even through a screen and across time zones (Issam in Dubai, me in New York), I could feel the excitement and passion for this new album. While Issam’s fame and status continues to sky rocket, he fosters a humble and genuine atmosphere when he’s speaking about his creation. Not only is the young artist honest and eloquent, but he has a grasp over his music that’s unlike any musician I’ve ever met.
If you ask me, this is a guy who’s not partial in his process. He devotes his entire time and life to creating music he believes in and has grown to love. It draws from his upbringing in Jordan, from the education by artists he admires, and from a passion to create paths for Arab artists that didn’t exist before. Without a doubt, Issam Alnajjar is a name you're about to see everywhere.