When one listens to hip hop, the focus goes towards the lyrics mainly, which could portray a story of struggle or love for money and power – it can go either way, really. As for Chyno with a Why?, music is about a catchy beat and powerful messages against racism and double standards, and some blatant hits at those as tasteless as grilled chicken without toum (garlic paste.)
The Beirut-based Syripino artist - half Syrian, half Filipino - refreshingly mixes traditional hip hop with modern trap elements in his new album, Mamluk.
In his song Russian Roulette, he tackles facing racism in the Arab world and local music scene for being an Arab-Filipino.
"I think it's like I get dealt a bad card every now and then and sometimes it's because this is not where I'm from, I feel like I could get picked on, you know, because I am definitely the minority in my surroundings.
It's kinda like playing Russian roulette like I might not fire at you because I'm protecting myself and my existence in this environment, but it's Russian roulette because one day I might just blow up in your face," Chyno with a Why? explained.
In his music video for Russian Roulette, we see him nonchalantly walking through a park in the Philippines as the song's lyrics pop up on the screen, here and there.
He throws a couple of local references like "Deek Duke", a well-known Lebanese restaurant, and "Badaro", a charming street in Beirut that's filled with pubs and eateries. Add to those the location of the video and his "Syria is in my blood, racism is in yours" line, and you get the right image of what the rapper's background is.
Chyno with a Why? recently changed his name from Chyno to the one he now has since people almost always misspell his name. But this isn't the only change to alter his life this year.
Warner Music Group, the international record label that has under its wing artists like Cardi B, Coldplay, and Dua Lipa, launched its local roster of artists with Chyno with a Why? this month, making the rapper the first one to sign with Warner Music's Middle East division.
The rapper-producer, part of the legendary Lebanese hip hop crew FareeQ El Atrash, makes music to deal with his consequent feelings of disenfranchisement and marginalization, which are quite emphasized in Mamluk.
In his early beginnings, he invaded the Middle Eastern scene with his first solo album, Making Music to Feel at Home, in 2015. Then two years later, a collaborative album of his own production, called El Dahleen (The Misled), made its grand entrance and featured most of Lebanon's major hip hop artists. El Dahleen highlights the push and pull factor of extremist organizations for young men in this region.
In 2018, he teamed up with Jordanian The Synaptik for a joint album called Terminal, which highlights the juxtaposition of the modern youth who are too western for the Arab world and too Arab for the western world.
Chyno with a Why? was also a founding member of the Beirut S.C.U.M. Week festival, the first street culture and urban music festival of its kind in the region.
There's no denying Chyno with a Why? will be leaving his mark on the scene, with music and lyrics as memorable as his name.