YUNG SELECTS: Adam Bakri and his musical journey through time and emotion

Adam Bakri’s YUNG Selects tracks aren't just songs; they're chapters of his life's novel.

YUNG SELECTS: Adam Bakri and his musical journey through time and emotion
Menna Shanab

“Choosing just ten songs was a serious challenge,” Adam Bakri (Instagram) confesses as he unveils his YUNG Selects playlist. The actor, known for his iconic role in “Omar”, takes us on a musical journey that mirrors his life’s experiences. “These songs are snapshots of who I am,” he says, his voice tinged with nostalgia.

Growing up in the small village of Al Bi’ne, in the north of Palestine, Adam’s house was always buzzing with life – cultures, languages, artistic expressions. “We always had strangers sleep over—people who spoke different languages and looked all sorts of ways,” he recalls. His father’s friends, mostly artists and media personalities, would visit from all over the world, leaving the house brimming with profound conversations, movies, and always music. It was a childhood bursting with colour and sound. A perfect prelude to an artist’s life.

But life wasn’t always rosy. “We also had our drama: the political situation, the lack of money, and us forging our paths as Palestinians trying to say, ‘Hey y’all, we exist,'” Bakri shares. “I always felt like an outsider in a way,” he admits, reflecting on the challenges of moving between schools and villages. Yet, he adds, “I’d say my upbringing was positive. Very enriching. I was exposed to many different realities, and that is good for an artist’s life.” With movies and music as constant backdrops, Bakri’s early years were a rich blend of artistic exposure and deep-rooted Palestinian culture.

The weight of his Palestinian identity and the challenges associated with it influenced his view of art and his career choices. “I realized early on that my life as a Palestinian in general, and as an artist in particular, wasn’t going to be easy,” he admits. His move to America in his early twenties to study acting was partly an attempt to escape this weight. The West brought its own set of questions about identity and artistry. “Hardcore questions like ‘Who am I?’ and questions about my artistic identity started to form and nag for answers,” he shares.

Adam Bakri

“I’ve refused so many parts that portray the Palestinian, the Arab, and the Muslim in a negative way and continue to perpetuate a stereotype,” Bakri reveals. Standing up for his beliefs has come at a cost, both professionally and personally. “This led me, I’d like to believe, to a good amount of clarity in terms of a vision for what my art should be, and how I am to be me in this world,” he says.

Adam’s rise from the West Bank to global stardom is nothing short of cinematic. “It uplifts me often, and crushes me at times,” he says candidly. As an artist with a voice, he often faces opposition and criticism. “There are certain things that I can’t compromise—certain principles,” he asserts. While he acknowledges his success on the international stage, he admits he is far from satisfied. “I am forever grateful, but ambition is something entirely different from greed,” he explains.

Reflecting on his role in “Omar”, Adam acknowledges how much he has changed since then. “I was fresh out of theatre school when I did “Omar”, barely 25 years old,” he recalls. The rejections that followed the movie’s success at the Oscars were a harsh blow. “But again, I am someone who acknowledges the dark, but has his vision focused on the light,” he says. Today, he stands as a better artist and a better person. “Alhamdulillah,” he says with gratitude.

This YUNG Selects playlist is a melodic reflection on the life journey of Adam Bakri. Each track, handpicked with love and care, holds a special place in his heart, representing different parts of his puzzle. From his appreciation for Japanese animation in “Lend Me Your Voice” to the political conversations symbolized by Sheikh Imam’s songs, each choice resonates with a piece of him. “Anyone” by Bieber, his wedding song, holds a special place in his heart. “It’s one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard,” he says.

If these sounds have your ears twitching, check out our music coverage and more YUNG Selects, like this from Adam Bakri, here.