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San Diego, California, United States | SELF

San Diego, California, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop


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"Iraqi-American Rapper Blasts Bush and Iraq War"

The music industry has been too silent for too long about the Iraq war. With the exception of a few bands like State Radio and System of a Down, most artists (and record labels) have been either too detached or too afraid to address the most important issue of our time.

Hip-hop, the type of music that is arguably most influential among young people right now, has been especially silent.

Now that has finally changed. And it is about damn time. At its core, hip-hop has always been about educating people. Well, a new artist has finally stepped up with the talent and the guts to educate us all--and effectively tear into the Iraq war and President Bush. He loves the US and doesn't attack the troops, and instead focuses his lyrical crosshairs firmly on the President and his policies. He addresses stereotypes, talks about America's endangered global standing, delivers an important history lesson on the Middle East, and even addresses the President's new surge plan. The beat is hot, the lyrics are strong, and the message is honest.

Please allow me to introduce you to an Iraqi-American rapper from San Diego, California named TIMZ.

His powerful new music video for the track "Iraq" is about to make some serious waves.

Powerful words in an important time. Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Eminem and everyone else in hip-hop (signed and unsigned), the gauntlet has been thrown down by TIMZ. The world is listening. It's time for the rest of you to step up. - Huffington Post

"Not Quite Straight Outta Baghdad"

"A lot of people hear my lyrics and hear the anti-Bush, antiwar lyrics and assume that I'm a terrorist or I hate the country," says Rancho San Diego rapper Timz. "That's not the case. I was born here in San Diego, but my parents were born in Baghdad."

Timz, 21, graduates next month from USD with a degree in business administration. He says he will spend his immediate future concentrating on music. Last Friday at El Cajon's Crystal Ballroom, he performed at a release party for his first CD, Open for Business.

Timz: Born In The U.S.A
Photo By Ryan Loyko
Timz works part-time at his father's liquor store. On March 1, two employees of an El Cajon liquor store were executed. Like Timz's family, the victims were Chaldean.

"That rocked our community. It showed how strong of a community we are. There are about 20,000 Chaldeans in San Diego. We have the second-largest Chaldean community after Detroit.... A lot of people don't know the difference between Iraqi and Iranian. They lump us into one big group of Bin Ladens and Saddam Husseins walking around.... After 9/11, a few people came into my dad's store and gave him a hard time. If they were drunk and they didn't have enough money [to buy alcohol], they would say stupid things to my dad and his workers."

There's still a whole lot left that needs to be addressed / Like all of this talk that Timz hates the U.S. / Wait a minute, Timz hates where? / Homey, I was born and raised here.

"I am a U.S. citizen, but I do have a problem with the people running it and running it into the ground. The scariest thing is what's going on in Iran right now. They are standing up for themselves, and they aren't backing down. I don't want to see this nation get hurt again like 9/11." -- Ken Leighton - SD Reader

"Hip Hop Meets the Middle East"

San Diego’s own local Chaldean artist is making waves in what many consider America’s finest city with his first full length CD titled “Open For Business.” For Tommy Hanna, A.K.A “TIMZ,” being “Open For Business” is a daily routine.

“My CD is a day in the life,” Hanna said. “We titled it “Open For Business” because that’s what I am; open for business all the time. I am at work and if I wasn’t at work I was at school and if I wasn’t at school I was in the studio rapping.”

TIMZ, 21 is a recent graduate from USD with a degree in business administration. Like many young Chaldean men he manages his families business by day. Being Chaldean and of Iraqi decent is a big theme and somewhat drives the album.

“As Chaldean’s we definitely know how to work hard and play hard, me as a rapper I like to not only represent myself but represent everybody around me. We incorporated how we live on a daily basis, how we party nightly, just how we do everything; trying to represent who we are as a culture.”

This is exactly what TIMZ does as he expresses, through Hip Hop, a day in the life. The CD blends classic Middle Eastern beats into a creative and cohesive blend of music that has your head bobbing and your mind spinning as you digest some of the powerful lyrics and political nature the album takes in this journey through the young Chaldean’s life and mind.

In one of the most prominent, politically driven tracks titled IRAQ, TIMZ delves into what he feels is one of his responsibilities of being a Middle Eastern rapper.

“I have always tried to be involved in what is going on in Iraq,” he says. “As an artist I have the opportunity to have a voice. I felt it was my responsibility to come out and talk on behalf of Iraq and on behalf of the Middle East. A lot of people lump us into one big group of Bin Laden’s and Saddam Hussein’s walking around.”

The lyrics are powerful as illustrated from these excerpts of the song.

“Dear Mr. George Bush.. why do you assume to make a fool of us? For over 200 years… we stood for what’s good, now we despised by our peers; And what do you...but add fuel to the fire and send in more troops. Oh the troops God save the troops; it wasn’t their war their lives their fault. America the beautiful what do they do to you they use you its so indisputable!”

Expressing and using a Middle Eastern influence in his music was very important on this album. Almost every track blends a familiar Arabic beat in the background that collides with the bass and drums of current hip hop sounds.

“Rap music for the last couple years has really adopted using Middle Eastern beats,” stated Hanna. “I wanted to have the Middle Eastern beats not only because they sound great but there’s also that responsibility again, where it’s like I am a Middle Eastern rapper, I do hip hop so might as well blend the two together and give them something they haven’t heard before.”

This difference is exactly what has local hip hop fans in San Diego excited for the young Chaldean’s potential to make it big in the rap game.

“One of the main reasons I like the CD is the Arabic influence in every song,” said Rafe Putres, a local Chaldean business owner. “I took the CD to the local Chaldean barber shop and played it in there and it really caught their attention right off the bat. The CD relates to all of us.”

The CD entices even those who don’t enjoy hip hop. It is the Arabic beats, the powerful and true lyrics and the passion in the music that has at least one local music fan, Joey Attiq, relating to TIMZ’s music.

“I hate hip hop except a very few select artists because most are not believable,” Attiq says. “TIMZ is believable and his music is real. I like his style; it’s a new style of music, a very revolutionary CD. He’s got a passion for his music and that’s why I can relate to him. I hope his music evolves into something greater and I hope he makes it big.”

It is this familiarity and reality which comes through in many of the tracks on this album that separates TIMZ from many of the rap artists. Many Hip Hop artists today talk about drug dealing, killing and murder and often times portray themselves as something they are not simply to sell records. For TIMZ however, being Chaldean, telling the truth and talking about everyday life is the direction he feels will offer the most respect and loyalty from his peers.

“I am not a thug, I’m not a gangster, and I can’t and won’t rap about selling drugs, to where most of the hip hop listening world would be able to relate to me a little easier,” Hanna said. “There’s got to be something different abut you as an artist to make people want to listen and for me it’s being real, telling the truth and giving it from the Iraqi-American perspective.”

With what’s going on in the world today, the intrigue and his voice is being heard in San Diego and soon nationally. - Chaldean News

"Chaldean Rapper TIMZ Squares of with Chuck Norris on FOX News"

California, USA - Chaldean rapper TIMZ (Tommy Hanna), has caused a national stir with his latest award winning nomination for best 2006 Hip Hop Album at the San Diego Annual Music Awards. The candid American born rapper was recently featured on Fox News in a face-to-face discussion with Chuck Norris regarding his scorching debut CD titled “Open For Business.” TIMZ takes on Chuck Norris as he brings to light America’s missteps in the Iraqi War and their cultural ignorance of the region.

TIMZ lyrical criticism of the Iraqi war infused with Middle Eastern hip hop rhythms and hypnotic beats hopes to crush stereotypes of Middle Easterners. The entrepreneur lays out a 14-track collection that has propelled the University of San Diego graduate to the national spotlight. “TIMZ captures the perseverant lifestyle of Chaldeans,” says Ranya Semmo. “I love his work. He is brilliant, full of energy, and hits you with a very powerful message.”

(This article contains both TIMZ music video and the Fox News Interview)

“The concept of the album is a day in the life,” TIMZ says. “That’s what I am, open for business all the time. I am at work and if I wasn’t at work I was at school and if I wasn’t at school I was in the studio rapping.” TIMZ has already hit #1 on 11 reporting radio stations from New York to California to Florida.

TIMZ speaks passionately about his heritage and on his website (www.timzonline.com) he writes, “Chaldeans, who are Catholic by faith, were the true native people of Iraq dating back to the ancient times of Mesopotamia and the flourishing time of Babylon. The only remnants from that Iraq and the Iraq that we see now are the rivers. That’s it, everything else has changed.” TIMZ adds that Americans lump all Middle Easterners as, “one big group of Bin Ladens and Saddam Husseins walking around.”

Facing Norris on Fox News Hanna discusses the fear and difficulty of the indigenous Iraqi Christians, caught in the middle of an Islamic feud. TIMZ said that when he was in Iraq, it was during Hussein’s reign. “I believe that the country – the state that it is in now – it’s actually more dangerous than when Saddam Hussein was in power. At least people could walk down the street without being afraid of their neighbor killing them. I understand that there was a fear of Saddam Hussein and his reign of terror. Yes, I don’t promote Saddam Hussein and the things that he has done in the past. However, I do believe that it was safer as a region for a regular person like myself to walk down the street and not be afraid of the next person coming up to me and kidnapping me or killing me for no apparent reason."

The Bush administration has taken many hits on their failure to fully appreciate the cultural and political dynamics of Iraq. Forewarned by then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, that invading Iraq would require complete ownership of the region the Administration forged ahead with little or no contingency plans.

While most of the Chaldean community has been able to forgive the initial mistakes of the administration in hopes of bringing a true democracy to the region, a growing number of Chaldeans have reconsidered their support. The change in attitude is due to the ongoing persecution of Christians in the region, the failure of the Administration to stabilize the region, and the abuse and lack of justice towards Christian refugees.

Calls from military personnel to provide more security to minority groups in Iraq have fallen on deaf ears. When the state department refused to allow Chaldean parents to visit America when their child was murdered in a California robbery killing spree, Chaldeans were outraged. The betrayal by the Bush administration has some in the Chaldean community calling for boycott of any government assistance in translation services or as cultural attachés. Although the calls have been few they are fast growing. - Chaldean.org

"Relevant Raps"

Iraqi-American rapper Timz is riding the anti-Bush wave with "Iraq," the first single off his new CD Open for Business. At this writing, the song is the number four most-added track on CMJ's College Pop Radio Stations Chart. Sample lyric: "America
the beautiful, what did they do to you?/ They used you, it's so indisputable.../ What, are we supposed to be thankful?/ You killed my family and I should say thank you?"

Born in the U.S. and of Chaldean and Iraqi descent, Timz (real name Tommy Hanna) says he wants to educate people about Chaldeans, devout Catholics credited as having been Iraq's native population in ancient times.

"I'm not shy about being proud of who I am, and it's great to educate people about my culture by rapping about things that other artists can't." He says the album title Open for Business refers to his job at his father's liquor store. "It's not nine-to-five; [it's] more like morning to night, 365 days a year. I'm here; I turn the lights on, and I turn the lights off."

In early November, Timz won a $5000 cash prize in TheBeat.fm's Summer Bash Music Contest. Earlier this year, an El Cajon concert was shut down by police and promoters as he performed an anti-Bush song titled, "There's a War Going On." Police said they responded to noise complaints. -- Jay Allen Sanford - SD Reader

"Other Featured Stories, Guest Features and Blog Write Ups"

MTV News 3/07/07
Hannity & Colmes (FOX News) 1/26/07
Al Jazeera 3/20/07
Madcow's Syndicated Radio
M6/French TV
Russia National TV
Holland Royal Radio
XMOR Blazin’ 98.9 FM
SAIC Studios’ The Mighty XX
KBZT San Diego 94.9 FM
FRSD 96.9 FM
KMYI Star 94.1 FM
XHTZ-FM Jammin Z90
Axis Radio Air America Progressive Talk AM 1360 KLSD
Randi Rhodes Show (Air America)
Radio France Internationale (www.rfi.fr)
KUSI Morning News
KGTV 11/30/05
KGTV 1/29/07
Cox Network 12/29/05
Cox Network 1/11/07
San Diego Union Tribune
SD Reader 5/04/06
SD Reader 8/17/06
SD Reader 10/12/06
SD Reader 11/30/06
SD Reader 1/11/07
SD CityBeat 9/13/06
SD CityBeat 1/10/07
Wireless Flash
The Chaldean News
The Grimmie Wreck Show
Entertainment Zone
Music Industry News Network
Riverside Press Enterprise
San Diego Magazine
Happy Magazine
Assyrian Int. News Agency
Guerilla News Network
Zinda Magazine
Huffington Post
Artist Direct
Turbo News
News Hounds
Anomaly TV

Chasing Ghosts
Cat Dirt Sez
The Two Malcontents
The Open Piehole
BC Blogs
Different Kitchen
Progressive Bloggers
As Ohio Goes
Music For America
Inbox Robot
Charger Tom
Audacious Ontology
The Bad Guy
Angry Republican
Pancho Andy
Sacramento of Democracy
Motorcity Liberal
Among Giants
Rap Space
Rebelle Nation
Politics from the Left
Too Sense
Girl in Short Shorts
Los Links de Sabado
Ear Taste
Green Libertarian
- N/A


Open For Business LP (2006)

Radio Single #1: Iraq (2006)

Video Single #1: Iraq (2007)

Video Single #2: Open For Business (2008)

Future History (2012)

Video Single #1: Do Something

Video Single #1: Refugee



Headline-making Hip-Hop artist Timz (www.Timzonline.com) landed world-wide media interest with the single and video titled Iraq, from his first album, Open for Business. Shedding light on the destruction of his ancestral homeland, the American-born rapper of Assyrian/Chaldean and Iraqi descent shared his insights with the international news media.

The controversial video for “Iraq” directed by Ron Najor, won the Hollywood Film Festival Award for Music Video of the Year, captured a collective million hits on YouTube.com, and catapulted the San Diego native Tommy Hanna, pka Timz, into news headlines across the world.

“The next thing I knew I found myself on MTV, FOX News, and Al Jazeera, speaking not only for Assyrians/Chaldeans or Iraqis, but Middle Easterners in general. I don’t consider myself an activist so it was all very new to me.” Timz goes on to explain that he hadn’t anticipated the impact Iraq would make. “I was actually against making the music video at first because I thought nobody would watch it.”

Timz has once again captured the world’s attention with his latest eye-opening music video, Refugee. The newest effort reminds the world of the Iraq war’s continuing and often unnoticed victims of the war – Iraqi refugees. Nearly five million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes since 2003 due to persecution and violence. Timz’s Refugee captures the heart-wrenching stories of three individual refugees who were forced to flee Iraq and now attempting to rebuild their lives in America.

“I wrote Refugee to raise awareness of not only the horrific things these people experienced in Iraq, but to also highlight the tragic situations in which refugees are living today. We cannot change the past, but we can help to improve the lives of refugees in the future,” explains Timz.

Although Iraq holds a special meaning to Timz, the 27 year old was born in the United States after his parents immigrated in the late 1970s. “My father came to this country to capture the American Dream. He opened his own liquor store and that’s where I pretty much grew up. My first album, Open For Business, was a very real depiction of my life at that time. I was either at school or at work.”

Timz views the lack of Middle Eastern musicians in the American music industry as an opportunity rather than a discouragement. “If you pay attention to music today, there are a lot of Middle Eastern samples, sounds and instruments being used. But there has yet to be a Middle Eastern face. I hope to fill that void.”

Best known for his socially conscious music, Timz does not like the label of being a “conscious rapper.” “I write all types of music – dance songs, love songs, funny songs and of course – conscious songs. I think those just get a little more attention because of who I am and what my background is. People are interested in hearing my perspective on issues.”

Timz jokes that his start in hip-hop is not one likely to gain him much street credibility. “I wrote my first song when I was eight years old after watching the Kris Kross video for “Jump.” I loved that song! I remember seeing those kids and thinking, ‘I want to do that.’ And so I did - me and my cousin started a group called Jump Jumpy Jump,” Timz laughs.

But Timz’s journey in music does not come without speed bumps, admitting to regrets in musical choices over the years. “I feel like there are some songs that I made because I was trying to fit in. I’m older now and I’m comfortable with who I am. I’m not trying to be someone that I’m not.”

Refugee is destined to be the first single from Timz’s highly anticipated new album, Future History. The song and video has already gone viral, notching over 40,000 views without any promotion. The sophomore effort also includes a lighter side, with Carpet Ride providing an up-tempo, Middle Eastern flavored club hit and You Always Tell Me offering a fun exchange between Timz and a love-interest with trust issues