Freestyling on a bus in high school may have started as just a hobby for Nadiem Musleh, but has since grown into something much more. Rapping has become a way for him to face his internal struggles and find peace in his life at Ohio State.
Musleh, a fourth-year in psychology and music, said he came into college not knowing what to do, and ended up following his twin sister into psychology.
Before he knew it, he had fallen in love with the subject. As he got further into music, Musleh said he wanted to use psychology to see how he could better engage his listeners.
“The human brain is very intricate when it comes to receiving music,” Musleh said.
Musleh, who releases music under his first name, was an introvert when he first came to campus and said that writing music was his way of expressing himself and dealing with school.
“I think it’s just something that helped me get through my college experience and I just decided to take it further,” Musleh said.
Balancing rapping and schoolwork can be challenging, and Musleh said that he tries to take a lot of online classes because of his travels. He said he manages his time by trying to finish his work while traveling.
“I think time management is very important, especially when doing something like this,” Musleh said. “You have to find the time to do it if you have to do it.”
Musleh also approaches his professors before the first class every semester and introduces himself and what he does. He said that he explains to them what he does and talks to them about days he will not be available. If the professors do not accept his schedule, he tries to adjust.
Kristy Boyce, senior lecturer in the psychology department and one of Musleh’s professors, was surprised when he first came up to talk to her about his situation.
“There’s a lot of reasons why students want to not be in class, but that’s not one that I had heard of before,” Boyce said.
Musleh also said that he planned his tour of more than seven cities almost a year in advance and in accordance with his class schedules so he would miss the least amount of classes he could because school is a priority to him.
“I don’t know how he did it, but one way or another he found a way to be there,” Boyce said.
Musleh has not found his sweet spot yet and is still working on his sound as an artist, trying different samples and finding his comfort zone.
Although for now he is sticking to alternative hip-hop and conscious rapping about things that matter to him, Musleh said he is open to trying new things and incorporating different sounds.
He hates comparing himself to other artists and said people tell him that he sounds like NF or “Russ with a twist” and even Logic, but Musleh feels that his sound is different.
“I think I just sound like Nadiem, man,” Musleh said. “I think I have my own sound.”
Musleh comes from a biracial background where his dad is Muslim and his mom is Catholic. He said this always put him in a position where he was stuck between the two, being forced to pick a side and never able to be just himself.
He said that he was always “too white” for his Arabic friends and “too Arabic” for his white friends.
Musleh said he took the problems he faced from being Arab-American, and started thinking of other issues in his life like mental illnesses and gender inequality, trying to integrate it all into his music.
Comparing Columbus to cities like Los Angeles and New York where everyone is competitive, Musleh said Columbus has a musical community that is supportive of each other, where people like to see other people grow.
He wants to plant his seed at Ohio State and grow because it’s where he started and had problems finding his identity. He said that he wants to be a voice for other students so they can go out and do what they want to do.
Musleh enjoys performing at Newport Music Hall and has a show at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Skully’s Music-Diner.
He is big on not putting out free content and said that if there is something you’re really serious about, you have to invest and make money off of it so you can use that money to invest further.
His music can be found on all music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and iHeartRadio.
Musleh wants to be remembered for paving the way for others and said that he wants to inspire them into doing what they want to do, regardless of what people say.
“I want to show people that you don’t have to be scared to liberate over the oppression that comes in this predominant society,” Musleh said. “It’s really important to chase what you want to do.”