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LIFE: The Art of Dying [Article]

Montreal, QCNofy Fannan was an inspiration to all. To everyone who reads this and has met him once or a hundred times in their lives, they will tell you that this man has left a huge impact on their souls. From the rhythms of his beats, to the rhythms of his life, he always left the room with a refreshing outlook on the future and persistent positive perfection to your day. Please take this time to appreciate every breath you take, we are all blessed to have met him and equally blessed to have been given the opportunity to speak on him. On behalf of everyone in the Euphrates tribe, I would like to say thank you all for taking the time to read this, and I would personally life to thank my brothers and sisters who know Nofy for showing him and his family such love and support during the time of hardship and suffering. One love King.

I remember Nofy once stopping me in my tracks and telling me how much every detail in action must be taken with the smallest grain of salt but under the most magnifying microscope of your mind. In other words, he was saying with every little mistake you make, whether it’s a spelling error or a miscalculation in communication, comes the destruction of the entire project you have just unleashed on the planet. His most famous saying was, and still is, ‘fuck this up, and it will mean nothing…and nothing is impossible’.

What a king we were blessed to know. To all of you, he is simply Nofy Fannan, one half of SandhiLL, and a third of ‘iraqi hip-hop trio’ Euphrates. To us, he is Big Nofy; our big brother Nawaf Al-Rufaie. In Arabic, the direct translation of his real name is ‘the high one’ or one elevated in nature. His name could have not have been a better precursor to his existence; he was the one friend in my life that I would run to when I needed advice on anything-love, hate, quarrels, finance, knowledge of self…anything. Him and his brother Nawar (Arabic for ‘the illuminator’) aka HabiLLis have been such a major part of my life since I could remember that I didn’t question coming back to Canada ONCE when I finished high school out in the Fickle East, and never did I think we would end up parting ways so close to our first Euphrates session.

Enter Circa….1992. I walked into the Al-Rufaie household. Nawaf and Hazem (modern-day Illycyst-fourth quarter of Euphrates) were rocking high-top fade type haircuts, big pubescent noses, and belt-pouches with florescent colors, holding out their high-schools at local breaks, doing kid-n-play type renditions and battling cats off the dance floors at a young age. I always used to see the pair kicking it old school and laughing at me and Nawars’ young asses still trying to figure out what being boys was all about. I would always watch them and say, damn, one day, I hope we get to hang with those two brothers; but of course, sibling rivalry and generation gap-fronts always came in the way of a true relationship. Eventually, about three years down the line, I would end up leaving to Abu Dhabi, relocating from my best friend Nawar because of my fathers’ new job. In the process, I would escape through the hip-hop classics, and re-establish my nerdy self into what you would call, an MC.

I would regularly revisit Canada every summer, passing out on their dooshaj (loose mattress) and spending nights on end just lounging, watching television and eventually building into what became our group today….or yesterday…yester-we. Nofy would be in and out of Montreal, taking trips with Illy to Wildwood, or some obscure areas in the States to work over long hauls in the summer for what they called ‘experience’. I loved it of course, wanting to join them, but always to shy to even bring it up. They would return to us and bless us with new CDs, gear and anything American that would entice our young minds at the time. I remember the first gift Nofy got me was a Wu-tape…a wu-mixtape with shit I had never heard; and I didn’t know him too well at that time, so it gave me goosebumps, I felt like I finally met my older brother. Then I left and I still have that tape back home in the Middle East till this day. Can it be that it was all so simple then….

As I would travel back and forth, Nawar, Nawaf and I would relearn each other on every consecutive trip. I got to know Nofy better around the age of 16, when I finally started taking spitting seriously. We would sit down in his room, all three of us, and battle each other, dissing every little detail that we knew of each others private lives; from my chubby baby-breasts; to Nofys’ monkey ears, as I used to call them. We went all out at each other for the next three years. Sending each other tapes and rhymes back and forth from coast to coast. I remember awaiting those packages with such excitement. Nawar would send me tapes of music videos that wouldn’t catch in the Middle East. And Nawaf, with his uncontested sense of humour, would send me tapes of randomly recorded television transmissions, from cheesy infomercials to Japanese TV shows to French learning channel documentaries on cheese fermenting processes and frog sexual behaviour. I cherished these seemingly meaningless relics so close to heart, they helped me through the mundane days spent in Abu Dhabi, watching lizards chase flies in the sweltering heat. That’s when I knew this relationship was more than just friends, I found my ‘brothers from another mother’.

As I returned to Montreal in 2000 for my University studies, we had already decided we were going to pursue something musical together. They had already started messing with beats, I had been writing for a while; and we thought to ourselves, lets take this all to the next level. In came Euphrates….and University life.

Nofy and I went got into Communications Studies at Concordia University at the same time, deciding that we both wanted to learn the tools of the trade in sound, and really understand the inner structure of the system we live in. We would spend days on end together, either working on projects, just lounging, hitting the studio up with Habi to cut new tracks for A BEND IN THE RIVER (our first LP), building. But most the time, we would just talk, I got to know him a lot better in the last four years of his life. We would spend five out of seven days together, ALL DAY, sometimes even overnight sitting in front of our respective computers sending wavs back and forth to finish up projects for University that were due the next morning; ok-ing each others work and competing at an illness level unfathomable to any of you reading this right now. He would shock me everytime, you should hear his school pieces. Mind-boggling. I remember days when he hadn’t slept, walking away from our classes together, rocking the same damn ‘lo sweaters, talking about Islam, God, Politics, pretentious University crowds, Self, the system, music, love, passion…all that. Nofy and I just built for hours, reaching no conclusion. Our last four years together served as one long learning experience to me, one long winded conversation that we never got to finish, something we might share in the heavens if Allah permits me the right to enter the gates I’m sure Nofy visited eight days ago, on November 26th 2004 at 730 am Montreal, Earth Time.

About a month before Nofy passed, he has sat me down and we planned out the next coming year together, what we were gonna do for Euphrates and each other to make things happen. He of course wrote everything down; I sat there and told him I have it all in head. He then proceeded to tell me what a cocky bastard I was, and that I would probably forget it in a month. Then he corrected himself and said I’d probably forget it in a day. Nofy was a stroke of genius, one that would have left the entire world in shock if only they had discovered him before he left us. Writing these words alone make me feel like I’m lying to myself; as though Nofy is gonna walk into my apartment right now and tell me to cut out all this pretentious talk. I so wish that was reality and this was all a really bad nightmare. I sometimes still pinch myself to believe it.

If walls could break I would mould this hall to shake the earth and fall to birth. 
If words were silent, I would rid this world of violence and hurl a sentence so quiet it would unfurl a science in verbal pious circles…to bring you back.
Wake to sleep; I would hate to speak on it.
We seek solace in the peace of each homage, Middle Eastern street carnage, reach on us. 
Son of the moon too bright to teach honest, God bless you brother,
While we confess to others how you might rest above us.
Just know we hold the soul of Nofy so closely we slowly flow from flesh because you love us so deep, I wasn’t so sure this planet wasn’t so pure, till it swallowed my one and only cousin running from cures. I’ll watch it hover, scan, skies don’t shine for another plan succumbing hand of Allah,
It can’t be stranded. Sanded cover man, woman and child of a southern land.
Lift us first, your gifted worth God kissed the earth as you reached the sun and star,
al hamdulilah, Your shifted curse to drift and search a rift of hurt, as you kiss the earth and teach the sun and star. Al hamdulilah.

Oh high one, I asked the sky once why? Away so quick,
A number day so thick I felt it brush the summer way
Beyond; I summon prayer for a way we steal sufferance in your circumference and forget how we fear something so near, it sears comfort.
Habibi, need me to help? we cry sweet tears, from each ear, I hear streets cheer your name, and leap years of light for peers alike
Never will their ever be a better heaven than the one we severed here.
I guess rest is the only quest we seek in seconds with less of each other.
Brother. I wonder what you were sent for, mentor, we bent centaurs with the swords of our Friends sore hearts that won’t mend for ever incentive to send more love to our rented, dented pores. We leak from to feed children of each universe’s sun and stars. 
Al hamdulilah. Let it quench our thirst for understanding.
Let it bend our earth from thunder landing and soaking the dirt to wash.
What an earth we watch turn lost from the moment of girth.
So small, yet it won’t fall…your memory stands so tall it will glide and never touch the ground,
And birds will grow wings from your eyelashes, Worlds will grow springs with your dying ashes that flush the sound of nothingness.
Loving it. Till you lift us first, your gifted worth Allah kissed the earth as you reached the sun and star Al hamdulilah. Your shifted curse to drift and search a rift of hurt, as you kiss the earth and teach The sun and star. Al hamdulilah.

-the high one-
Jamal Abdul Narcel
Dedicated to Nawaf Al-Rufaie, November 15th 2004

On November 2nd 2004, at about 940 pm Montreal time, Nawaf and Hazem were doing their regular round across the street to visit my crib, where his cousin Sundus was painting for her class. The boys would regularly roll through, where my place became the headquarters for all God-cyphers that would occur till the wee hours of the morning. As soon as they reached the curb, an ATLAS TAXI came speeding down the hill and ran both of them over, leaving Nofy with severe head injury and Hazem unconscious on the sidewalk, waking up to see his best friend clinging to life in next to the pavement. First off, I would like to share this with all of you who have a vehicle. You are transporting a weapon, might as well be shooting bullets down lanes if you are driving fast for no reason. Nothing is running after us, but life. Secondly, I would like to make it loud and clear to ANYONE who is in Montreal to help us get Atlas out of some form of functional business. These murderers never even had the decency to call Nofy’s fam and send out their support, didn’t even offer their apologies for such a tragic occurrence. NOTHING. They left this situation as though it were an accident that should not be spoken of. Little did they know they took away the most elevated, high-spirited, intelligent and driven person in our lives. ALL OF US.

Nofy was in a coma for three weeks at the hospital after that fateful minute, and left us on November 26th in the early hours of the morning, about the time he would leave home to go to work…he left Earth to go to God. So peaceful this man was, so honourable. He graduated from Communications Studies with a complete GPA, distinction, had just started a new job at a cd manufacturing company, just turned 26 two weeks ago, and had a new outlook on life with his new accomplishments. And in the span of seconds, an angry arrogant negligent taxi driver came and took his soul from his body. All for a dollar. Nofy was priceless, and he became victim to the most random act of violence I had ever experienced or thought of in my life.

First off I would like to thank Hiphopcanada for giving us the platform to really speak on Nofy and his beautiful life. Secondly, I would like to thank Nawar and his family for being my home away from home for so long, and for them to know that I am here and there regardless of what happens, I got you guys…Nofy would have expected that from me in the least. Lastly and most importantly, I want to thank Nofy himself. Habibi, Allah wiyak, Allah yirhamak ya Sayidna. You are a king amongst princes. A Diamond amongst the weakest of rocks. A jewel between all these fakes ass encrusted chains we slaves to life carry around with us. Brother man, I miss you so much. I hope you are reading this somewhere, Smiling down knowing your legacy will live on forever, through our music, your inspiration and the words you left engraved in my soul. King, nothing is impossible, the world will know this soon. I love you. Make the sky shine. Rest in peace homie. Leave me a spot next to you somewhere, so we can bump them melody riffs and test heavenly gifts….

You can catch Nofy’s latest productions on the following projects. ‘Stereotypes Incorporated’, the latest Euphrates release available at several locations in Montreal as well as off their official website Nofy also scored the film VOICES OF IRAQ with Habillis and the Narcicyst, available at and playing in selected theatres worldwide. Lastly, some of his music and work will be included in the latest GNN film this revolution starring Rosario Dawson and Immortal Technique, coming soon. Please help us get justice for Nofy’s sake. Write us email as with any suggestions, or help get the word out about ATLAS TAXI being a bunch of murderous, angry, reckless drivers that need to be driven out of business. That’s word to our mommas.

Written by Jamal Abdul Narcel for HipHopCanada


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