Omar bin Musa (born 9 January 1984) is an award-winning author, poet and rapper from Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. He has released three solo hip hop records (including Since Ali Died) and three books of poetry. His debut novel Here Come the Dogs was published in 2014. Here Come the Dogs was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award [1] and Musa was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.[2]

Omar bin Musa
Omar Musa at Jaipur Literature Festival, Federation Square Melbourne 2017.jpg
Omar Musa at Jaipur Literature Festival, Federation Square, Melbourne 2017
Background information
Birth nameOmar bin Musa
Born (1984-01-09) 9 January 1984 (age 36)
Queanbeyan, New South Wales, AUS
GenresHip Hop, slam poetry, spoken word,
Occupation(s)Poet, rapper, songwriter, author
Years active2002–present

Early lifeEdit

Musa is the son of Australian arts journalist Helen Musa and Malaysian poet Musa bin Masran. He is of Suluk, Kedayan and Irish ancestry. He studied at the Australian National University and the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Musa has combined hip hop music and poetry throughout his career. He was runner up in the 2007 Australian Poetry Slam, before winning in 2008 at the Sydney Opera House.[3] He went on to win the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam in 2010. In 2010, he also did support for Gil Scott-Heron in Munich, Germany. In 2011, he was a guest panellist on ABC's Q&A. In 2013, he received a standing ovation at TEDxSydney at the Sydney Opera House.

He has performed and collaborated with numerous musicians and hip hop artists, including Kate Tempest, Marc E. Bassy, Daniel Merriweather, Kate Miller-Heidke, Lior, Horrorshow, Mantra, Akala, Soweto Kinch, Joelistics, The Last Kinection, Hau Latukefu from Koolism and L-FRESH the LION.

Musa has published three books of poetry, The Clocks, Parang and Millefiori. Meaning "machete" in Malay, Parang deals with Musa's Malaysian heritage, migration and loss, and includes his well-known spoken word poem "My Generation". Parang received praise from Man Booker Prize shortlisted authors Mohsin Hamid and Jeet Thayil.

Musa's debut novel Here Come The Dogs was published by Penguin Books (Australia) in July 2014. The story centres around the lives of three disaffected young men in small town Australia. Here Come the Dogs received praise from novelists Irvine Welsh and Christos Tsiolkas. The Guardian Australia described it as examining "race, identity and the unrealised dreams of disempowered Australian youths".[4] The Los Angeles Times said it was "rousing" and "searing", and that "with compassion and urgency, Here Come the Dogs excavates the pain of those who struggle to remain part of a ruthless equation that has been determined by others." [5]

Here Come the Dogs was nominated for numerous awards, such as the Miles Franklin Award and the International Dublin Literary Award, and won the People's Choice Award at the ACT Book of the Year Awards. Musa was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Young Novelists of the Year and short-listed for the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards in 2015

In 2016, Musa released DEAD CENTRE, a hip hop EP that featured appearances by Kate Miller-Heidke, Lior, Mataya, L-FRESH the LION and Hau. It was described by The Guardian Australia as "vital, if uneven" [6] and received four out of five stars in the Sydney Morning Herald.[7]

In 2017, Musa released a poetry book, Millefiori, and Since Ali Died, a full-length hip hop album featuring Sarah Corry, Amali Golden and Tasman Keith. In 2018, he created a one-man play, Since Ali Died, based upon the album, that premiered at Griffin Theatre in Sydney, Australia. [8]

Musa's work often deals with the themes of migration, Australian racism, violence, masculinity and loneliness.


He cites rappers Andre 3000, Ice Cube, Masta Ace, Common and Nas as influences, as well as poets Anne Sexton, Dorothy Porter, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Federico Garcia Lorca, and novelists Haruki Murakami, Cormac McCarthy and Roberto Bolaño.




  • Since Ali Died (2018)



  1. ^ "Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist 2015: Omar Musa, Suzanne McCourt and Christine Piper hit it big with debut works". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Maxine Beneba Clarke, Alice Pung, Ellen Van Neervan, Omar Musa, Michael Mohammed Ahmad are 2015 Best Young Australian Novelists". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Poetry Slam comes down to a 'Slam-off'". Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  4. ^ Lee, Nicole (22 July 2014). "Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa review — street poetry committed to the page". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
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External linksEdit