“Some people may not have known me or been fans of the social media stuff that I do, so maybe now with the music they could be interested," says the Yemeni-American vlogger
YouTube star Adam Saleh on his debut album and controversy with Delta Airlines
Adam Saleh’s video blogs and live performances frequently alluded to his skills as a burgeoning singer and rapper.
The popular 24-year-old Yemeni-American, who is based in New York, finally comes good on his promise with his debut album Chapter II.
Released last month, the debut album is a solid mix of R’n’B and hip-hop calculated enough to catch fire on social media and pleasant enough to fit comfortably on pop radio station playlists.
“I am really excited about the album as this is chance for people to see a new side of me,” Saleh tells me.
“Some people may not have known me or been fans of the social media stuff that I do, so maybe now with the music they could be interested. This was a project that I approached seriously.”
Saleh’s comments are, perhaps, a response to a general accusation that social media stars face when branching out into to the music industry; mainly that their actions derive more from opportunism than creative impulse.
“I can understand people who say that,” Saleh says.
“That’s why I’ve worked really hard on this project with really good people to make a real and credible project.
“I told my team that I don’t want anyone to think that this is a joke because the things that I am talking about in some of the songs mean a lot to me.”
An example of that is the opening track, Intro; which is a compelling mix of audio snippets of news broadcasts reporting on Saleh’s controversial feud with Delta Air Lines.
Saleh caused global headlines in December last year after posting from social media his and a friend’s removal from the US carrier's New York-bound flight from London. He said Delta Airline’s actions were racially motivated; the airlines responded by saying Saleh was being obnoxious on the flight.
While the matter between both parties has been privately settled, Saleh says it left a bitter after-taste with the media and public labelling his experience as a publicity stunt.
With the incident coming only two days after a terrorist attack in Berlin, Saleh acknowledges that nerves were already frayed.
“The whole media, they
are obviously going to side with the billion-dollar company instead of two Muslim boys,” he says.
“They will not risk the free flights or all the other complimentary stuff they get because of us. It was one of the hardest times for me because a lot of people thought it was lie. I mean, I wouldn’t lie about something like that.”
The rest of album is a lighter affair and features some standout collaboration.
The most effective is the trap-music-meets-Middle Eastern folk of Waynak, featuring Lebanese-Australian R’n’B singer Faydee, and the summery Right There with US rapper Silento.
Throughout the 13 tracks Saleh’s rapping and crooning is solid. He explains it comes on the back of hours of rehearsals and learning from the experts.
Judging by the fan reaction to Saleh’s album launch his latest career move is a winner. He confirms that a world tour is in the works with a UAE date included for next year. The fans of his vlogs shouldn’t fret, however. They will continue to be regular.
Saleh views his vlogging, with its humorous and intimate moments featuring friends and family, as detailing the American-Muslim experience.
While happy with success – Saleh’s five-year-old channel has more than 300 videos and nearly 3.5 million subscribers – he admits that growing up online comes with its own challenges.
“People do judge you for every move you make and that sucks, man. I would read all these negative comments about me and at first that got me really depressed,” he says.
“But this where my family came in and why I love them so much. No matter what, they are always there for me. With so many family members, my nieces and nephews around, I can never really be in the dark side. They are always there to make me laugh. That’s why I always enjoy babysitting.”
Saleh also urges fellow vloggers to focus on content than reaction, to safeguard their mental health.
“Never look at someone’s success and then compare yourself,” he says.
“Just focus on what you are doing no matter how many views you get. If you know you made a few people smile because of what you created, then that should be make
Chapter II by Adam Saleh is out now and available to stream on Anghami and Apple Music