Seven years have passed since I helped TIMZ release his album “Open For Business” and since the debut of the music video for his first single “Iraq.” At the time, I was running a couple successful small businesses in Southeast San Diego and TIMZ was a longtime friend who had a unique ability to write lyrics and deliver them both in the booth and on stage. Although neither of us had any experience in the music business, we knew that the independent music scene was becoming a reality and with the internet starting to boom, we would be able to get our music out to the world. We started working on an album called “Open For Business” which was based on the real life of TIMZ at the time. We made music that our community could relate to. Many of our parents immigrated from Iraq to Michigan to San Diego and became successful running small businesses like liquor stores, gas stations, and restaurants. A lot of us were the same, we worked hard and played hard. TIMZ wrote songs to portray his life of hard work, partying, girls, and tradition. It was a fun album to make! But there was one song he wrote which gave me chills during the recording process. That’s when I knew “Iraq” was going to be TIMZ first single and debut to the world.
We released the album and the “Iraq” single but it didn’t get too much attention. Yes, our family and friends loved it but I knew that we needed a music video. Through a mutual friend, I set out to meet Ron Najor who was an up and coming Chaldean director and producer. I thought he was too big time for us at the time because he was up in Hollywood working on movies and music videos with major artists. Still my friend gave Ron the album and I soon got a call back from Ron. He said, “I listened to the album and if I’m going to do a video, I only want to do it for ‘Iraq’” I agreed with him and after winning the fight with TIMZ on the song choice for the video, we went out to the desert with a film crew and shot the video for “Iraq.” It took a couple months to edit the video but when I first saw it, I got chills again. There was a war going on in Iraq which people around the world felt very strongly about. The music video Ron Najor directed was very powerful and showed graphic images and news clips that really made you feel something. With the video, TIMZ lyrics came to life. It provided something that we could put up on YouTube and then wait to see what happens.
To our shock and amazement, only two days after the release on youtube, FOX News called on the phone wanting to set up an interview with TIMZ to be live on nationwide TV on the Hannity and Colmes Show, which was extremely popular at the time. We knew that Fox News would make this a difficult interview for TIMZ but we decided to do it anyways. Incredibly when the show started live, Sean Hannity was not available that night and the guest host was none other than Chuck Norris. TIMZ and I were both big fans of Chuck growing up so we got excited as we sat in front of a camera in San Diego while the show was live in New York City. Chuck tried to bully TIMZ with questions about Iraq and Saddam Hussein but TIMZ would not be rattled. Instead he intelligently answered all questions and karate chopped everything Chuck Norris threw at him. YouTube hits for the video instantly started climbing after that and never really stopped. Chaldeans in San Diego and Detroit were sharing the interview and song and leaving comments showing their support. Other media outlets and blogs started sharing the music video. It was on MTV News, MTVU, Al Jazeera, French TV, Russian TV and all over the internet. We were getting scary death threats mixed with support letters from actual USA troops who were in Iraq telling us they loved the message. Heated debates were popping up on the YouTube comments section. People sent us pictures of viewing parties in Iraq where people were packed like sardines in houses that had internet just to watch our video. We were hoping to raise awareness and I think we did. However, we also hoped for the war to end, but seven years later it is unfortunately still not over.
Lately TIMZ and I have been getting emails about making a new song similar to Iraq and TIMZ is thinking about how to recreate something as powerful as “Iraq”. The original video has been seeing a lot of views and comments again in recent months. Although I am excited that the video is still being watched and that it is trending again on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, I am saddened by the reason. There still is a war going on outside. Not just in Iraq, but in many places around the world. Its scary to think that this might continue for a while. Many people think there is nothing we can do about it from so far away but I disagree. TIMZ music video is proof that something can be done to raise awareness. Right now our Chaldean people and other Christians in Iraq need it the most. They are being forced out of their homeland which they have occupied since the beginning. The terror group ISIS is making all Christians convert to Islam, pay a heavy tax, flee the country, or die by the sword. The genocide that is taking place is barely being covered by major media outlets and our people continue to suffer. I ask that you each share the Iraq music video on your social media sites with the hash tag #TimzIraq and support by buying the single “Iraq” on itunes. Every penny will be sent to help the refugees of Iraq.
-Alvin Shamoun AKA Biggie Babylon