Aar Maanta is a UK based Somali musician, described by young British Somalis as “the voice of our generation” because his music addresses issues resonating within the Somali community, with songs taking inspiration from the struggles of Somali people as well as the beauty of Somali culture.
Because of the civil war in Somalia, Aar has been living in the UK since the late eighties. Growing up as a lone child in a new country, Aar turned to music for comfort and healing at this early and painful period of his life, soaking up many styles including pop, rock, hip hop, RnB and house. The combination of these influences with Somali musical heritage gives Aar his unique artistic identity and sound.
Music became a passion for Aar at an early age; he started studying music at school and then at university. However, to his disappointment he wasn’t able to complete his degree and further his career at the time. Because of family pressure/disapprovals due to his Islamic faith, he was discouraged from following a career path in music and instead he completed a degree in Life Science instead.
Aar was always drawn back to his passion (music.) Shortly after completing his studies, Aar set up his own recording studio, Horn 2 Grove, and has worked with many diverse acts including Algerian Rai singer Abdelkader Saadoun and UK hip hop group Choong Family. However, he always loved his roots and felt compelled to help develop and push forward Somali music. Aar has since worked with many legendary Somali artists including Maryam Mursal and Ahmed Ismail Hussein (Hodeide) who is a master oud player and one of Somalia’s greatest composers.
Impressed by Aar's unique and fresh sound, Abdelkader Saadoun arranged for Aar's first festival performance. In July 2006 Aar played at Rise: London United the UK's largest anti-racist and multi-cultural festival along side Graham Coxon, Common, The Wailers, Buzzcocks, The Duke Spirit and jazz legend Roy Ayers. Over 80,000 young people and families attended this event, bringing together Londoners from all communities.
Frustrated by the lack of originality amongst current Somali artists and their unwillingness to modernize. Aar decided to produce his own album. In 2009 Aar Maanta’s eagerly awaited debut album Hiddo & Dhaqan was released to great acclaim, featuring popular tracks such as Asalamu Alaykum, Saafi, Mac Isii and Go’doomey. Hiddo & Dhaqan is a fresh and exciting album that pushes forward Somali music, whilst remembering its origins.
Aar’s musical approach, which blends the Somali sound with styles from all over the Horn of Africa, means that his music appeals to all Somalis from all regions. As a result, Aar Maanta is seen as a unifying figure at a time when there are a lot of divisions or discord.