In some ways, Cheefkit’s relationship with his heritage mirrors the path that so many immigrants relate to -- an initial yearning to be part of something bigger than themselves and to prove their righteousness to belong in the land of opportunities. Cheefkit, also known as Naeem Ahmed, spent much of his formative years navigating different parts of his identity, while eventually coming to terms with his heritage.
There is a lack of and problematic portrayal of Afghan Americans in Western media, which can create the sense that Afghan people are two-dimensional, however, they have so much more to offer than meets the eye. He even serves as an inspiration to young, budding artists who see themselves through him.
The rapper admitted that it took him some time to realize he can make it as a rapper, despite being a minority: “I can be one of those rappers who shows people all the potential you can have in music.” Growing up in the Bay area, he was surrounded by a diversity of people with experiences and personalities in the streets, which helped remind him of just how faulty perceptions of Afghan people are. Additionally, he also shifted his focus to exemplify his passions for music, without regard for the stereotypes that come with it.
This does not mean Cheefkit shies away from topics about race. As a matter of fact, he uses it to take a deeper dive into themes that are important and relevant to him. He explains that for him “I want to use my platform, so people can get to know me better as an artist. I’m taking a road that is less traveled and that is okay for me. I’m being more vivid, inspirational, and motivational with the content I’m creating.”
Moreover, Cheefkit is proud to be an immigrant and a rapper. His artistry allows him to create visual media that teaches how the world works and our place in it.