By Latifa AlSaeed
It’s hard not to take notice of Molham Krayem, a business strategist, writer, and artist; his music and desire to preach positivity and self-awareness is contagious. In an interview with Destination, AlMolham shares his secrets to producing rhymes that are driven by finding one’s passion and purpose:
You consult for the CEOs of the largest banks in Saudi as a Strategy Consultant with Bain & Co. — how do you balance being an artist while also working full-time in a highly demanding job?
By cutting off all distractions. Really, by learning how to say no. Once we’re clear on exactly what it is we want to happen for us in life, we become a lot more disciplined with our time. And there’s a lot we can accomplish in one day with the right focus and drive. What I think it comes down to, for me at least, is extreme prioritization. That’s my secret weapon that I think not too many people know about. At the end of the day, my actions need to map to my ambition. Meaning, if I want to live a special life, I need to be doing special things every day. If you work a day job from 9am-5pm, I encourage you to evaluate what you’re doing from 7pm-12am. Are you scrolling through your phone, or are you looking to make something happen? We often underestimate how much time we have in a day, yet overestimate how much time we have in a year. Try tracking, on an Excel sheet, how you spend every hour of your day for a full week – you might be stunned by the amount of time you unknowingly misallocate. Every day matters.
You write for Forbes and on your blog about life strategy, focusing on the concept of self-awareness. Why is it so important to you?
Because it determines how you invest your time – how you choose to spend it – how you make the most out of every minute of every day. And, as we now know, time is everything. It sounds cliché, but before you set sail you need to know where you’re headed. And where you want to go depends on who you are. So, before anything else, you need to know yourself. That’s what self-awareness is. Yet, surprisingly, most people rarely take the time to ask themselves the questions that matter. Yes you schedule coffee with other people, but when was the last time you scheduled coffee with yourself? That’s why mid-life crises are so common. The earlier you figure out your true desires, wants and needs, the happier you’ll be in the long term because you’ll have more time and energy to pursue them. I wrote an article called “27 Questions That Changed My Life.” It’s on my site blog – consider reading it and I promise it’ll change yours.
How do you divide up your week between work, rap, and writing?
I’m actually quite calculated with my time, so I’ll give you a pretty accurate high-level breakdown. In a given week, as we all do, I start with 168 hours. I sleep on average around 5 hours a day, which leaves me with 133 waking hours. Of those, on average, I spend roughly 50% consulting my clients on strategy, 15% writing recording-performing music, 10% life coaching and writing for Forbes, 20% between health, faith, family and friends – and the last 5% making sure the 95% all run smoothly.
When did you start taking rap more seriously?
Earlier this year. I wrote and performed throughout college, but I was always more focused on my classes-internships-startups. March is when I put out my first EP. The Time Is Yesterday. It was well received with both streaming and radio, and charted on Anghami’s top hip-hop charts. But I think people’s reactions to it is what made me realize the influence of music and the positive impact of sharing my own struggles. One girl who listened to Me Against The World DM’ed me on Instagram and told me her story. She’d been assaulted and kidnapped about a year ago and was recently released from a hospital trauma unit. She told me how the song was encouraging her to keep pushing forward when the days get tough. That, for me… that’s really the core of why I do what I do.
How did your family react when they saw you pursuing your passion?
My parents have always been supportive — what major to study, where to travel, etc. – but I think even for them rap was a little out there. Naturally they were a little skeptical at first. But I think it all changed for them when I did my first TV interview – mainstream media has an oddly interesting appeal for generation X. They started seeing the potential and they’re much more on board now – my mom shows my videos to all her friends, my dad retweets all my new songs. It also clicked for my grandma too – I can try and explain to her everything I’m doing, but it’s different when she’s watching her daily morning show and her grandson pops up as “today’s guest.” The way I see it is: your vision will always be very clear in your head. And it always takes time for others to see it too. Your job is to get them to see it.
Where does your inspiration come from?
From people like you. From everyone I meet. From every conversation I have – listening more than speaking. Even with myself, I listen more than I speak (if that makes any sense). And I read every day – books play a huge role.
What is the biggest barrier a rapper like yourself, has to face and overcome nowadays among society?
The answer’s in the question: that I’m a rapper — that, in and of itself, is the biggest barrier. There’s a societal stigma around the title in Middle Eastern culture. What’s funny though is if I say I’m a “poet,” people would respond differently – even though I’d be literally speaking the same words – and that tells you something about the power of word choice. But can I, or anyone, on the other hand blame society for their view of rap culture? Not really, no – at least I don’t. I’m empathetic. They only see what’s mainstream. But we’re changing mainstream.
What message or value do you hope to deliver to the world with your words?
The realization that time is everything. It’s everything because once a day is gone, it’s gone. And that’s why what you do every day matters. I live with the perspective that I’m going to die someday, because when I’m 90 years old and looking back at my life, what will matter most is: did I live my life in accordance with my values, and did I do everything I could to make it happen? The worst feeling in the world is regret, and the more you live from the perspective of your 90-year-old self, the more you minimize regret.