Azeem has been a regular on the Bay Area poetry and hip-hop scene for over a decade. In 1994, his first band Telefunken was featured on the compilation Groove Collective on OM Records. Azeem's real break came in 1996 at an open mic reading where he would test his mettle against fifty of the best poets in the country. To his own surprise, he won the contest and was invited to perform on the world famous Lollapalooza Tour, sharing the stage with George Clinton, A Tribe Called Quest, and The Beastie Boys, to name a few.
Later that year, Azeem caught the eye of Bay Area legend Michael Franti, who hired the Oakland emcee to compose songs for the second Spearhead album. After writing six songs, Azeem traveled the world with the band.
In 2000, Azeem released his first solo EP Garage Opera (Heratik) as well as contributing a track on Afro-Mystik's Future Tropic. Azeem followed up with the full-length album Craft Classic (Stray). The album's single "Rubber Glue" earned the No.1 spot on the CMJ radio rap chart. In early 2004, Azeem was the front man for Mayhemystics (Wide Hive), a mixture of live music and spiritually charged lyrics, which was nominated for a California Music Award. At the same time, he released his LP Show Business on Bomb Hip Hop.
Last June, Azeem joined the ranks of Bay Area talent like Living Legends, Crown City Rockers, and Zion I when he teamed up with DJ Zeph for the album Rise Up. The single "Play the Drum" topped the charts in Europe and Australia and became a bonified indie hit. This led to touring Australia with Talib Kweli, along with numerous shows in the US and Canada.
Azeem's parents hail from one of the most musically influential countries on the globe - Jamaica- so consciousness, music, and poetry are in his blood. Born in New Jersey and having lived in Miami and later Oakland, all the while spending each summer in Jamaica, Azeem had to constantly adjust to new places and make new friends. And while he learned to adapt to new environments quickly, he was also left alone with his thoughts and imagination. Crediting Dub Poets like Mutabaruka and Linton Kwesi Johnson for his love of spoken word, Azeem says, "I could just close my eyes and imagine a story to their lyrics. Later, when groups like Public Enemy and Poor Righteous Teachers came out, I knew I wanted to be an emcee."
In addition to his incredible gift for words, Azeem's success is due to his versatility. In 2006, he was featured in the PBS documentary United States of Poetry by Washington Square Films. He's been ranked second best performance poet in the nation and has a book of poetry, Dead White Men.
Finally, last year, he wrote, directed, and starred in the highly acclaimed one-man play Rude Boy, where Azeem plays a young man from Jamaica who ends up working as a janitor at a cardboard box factory in America.
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