Don't Sleep On Dounia, The Outspoken Moroccan-American Singer

BY MIA MONTALVO

Dounia Tazi is an unconventional artist of many forms. Her self-proclaimed name “King of Queens” is an ode to her roots in the East Coast neighborhood, however, her music is a crossover of influences from her Moroccan heritage and New York City attitude.

PHOTO: Tristan Stefan Edouard

PHOTO: Tristan Stefan Edouard

Originally known for her eccentric presence on social media, Dounia’s platform raises awareness to feminism, body positivity, and the importance of recognizing POC. She is a self-taught artist across many mediums. Raised in Morocco and Queens, Dounia grew up in a home with traditional Muslim values.

“I’d never really been exposed to music, because I’m Moroccan; Muslims don’t listen to music that much. Especially strict Muslims. So in high school is when I went out of my way to find music I liked, and started writing,” she told TIME in an interview.

Her first EP “Intro You” was released in 2017, and featured silky smooth vocals and rap verses in hits like “East Coast Hiding” and “So Cool.” Inspired by a boy in school at the time, she began writing diss tracks. This is where Dounia made her premiere as an artist, giving herself the title of “a better rapper than your boyfriend.” The EP was an introduction to her career but also a tribute to her home in New York City.

To be “avant garde,” is to introduce experimental and unusual ideas. Dounia’s latest release “The Avant-Garden” is a soulful palette of the unconventional. Fairly new to the rap game, Dounia plays with elements of R&B, spoken word, and pop beats to produce songs foundational to her self-discovery as an artist.

This is not to say that Dounia isn’t confident in her abilities. In fact, she’s quite opinionated and honest in sharing her own creative process, both personally and musically. In her intro “King of Queens” she sings: “I’m a starlet, self-made, you a plant / How you gon’ grow with the shade? No, you can’t / I be showing love, so I glow from within.”

She even teamed up with R&B princess, Kehlani in November to release the boss girl anthem “Rich Girl Mood.” The three and a half minute video directed by Tired Studio Production explores the pressures of success and a partners-in-crime female friendship.

Through her lyrics, she speaks on topics such as self-love, relationships, and draws close ties to her upbringing on the East Coast. As a nostalgic 21-year-old, she writes about her teen years with reflection and a sense that many young adults can connect to in their own coming-of-age tales. Most importantly, she is unapologetic about her image and the stories she tells.

“I think we are lacking a lot of authenticity in music. There are so many personas and not enough people. I think my presence offers a reminder that not everything has to follow a guideline for it to be dope,” said Dounia in an interview with Dazed.

Therefore, Dounia shines vividly, especially on tracks such as “Everything’s a Joke” and “Darija Freestyle,” featuring the dialect that was spoken within her home and her Moroccan homeland. She continues to advocate for equality and intersectionality in the world by “defending and amplifying the voices of marginalized groups.” Dounia’s platform is a carbon copy of her own narrative. Transferring what she stands for into her music is what makes her so much of a bad b*tch.

“Move over, ‘cause now it’s Dounia’s!”

Lead Image Credit: Tristan Stefan Edouard