He came from nothing, scored hit after hit and proves again and again that he is a game changer. F1rstman sets targets to achieve them, not simply striving after them. ‘I’m a train, I don’t stop, I don’t stop for stations. I keep going, always on the move.’ The natural born artist doesn’t think in limits and borders, but aims for world domination. The next step for the F1rstman express: Bollywood.
“The Bollywood sound used to be traditional and old skool, but there are now increasingly more Western influences. It’s becoming more modern, taboos are being broken down,” states F1rstman. You see: for him this is the perfect moment to get involved with the music in the Bollywood scene. “I stand out because I blend my roots with my Dutch sound. No one else uses Arabic scales in their choruses, only me.”
The 26-year-old F1rstman, real name Hassan Syed, grew up in The Hague, but was born in Lahore, Pakistan’s second city. He came to the Netherlands when he was three years old, and learnt to play percussion instruments aged six. Then he became acquainted with musicals. “My drama teacher decided to send me to auditions for Joop van den Ende musicals, and I was cast in the role of Simba in ‘The Lion King’.”
The young artist seems to be a natural star. When his drama teacher takes him to a performance of the world-famous beatboxer Rahzel, he was invited onto the stage by the legend to join in. He does it without any stress. “From that moment, I decided to go for it, to ultimately win the final of the Kunstbende talent contest.”
F1rstman’s creativity prospers. He acts, does beatboxing and plays football. One thing remains far behind: his education. “This is why my father decided that I should stop with football and the musicals. Time to focus on school. My parents were against beatboxing, but I persisted.” His brother’s friends arranged a studio, where he – the first person to do so in the Netherlands – made danceable rap music under the name NGS Entertainment. The friends appeared to go for the money, F1rstman preferred to prove himself and push himself further. “I thought: the money will follow. So, I went solo under the F1rstman name. The first track I released called ‘Te Laat’ was an instant hit. I gained fans, got more views on YouTube than I could have possibly imagined, but I was too nice. Labels overlooked me, I had no one to guide me.”
It was the prelude to the initial low point in the life of the musician. His studio broke, his girlfriend got pregnant and to make matters worse, his parents kicked him out. “Everything was a mess. Until I met my current tour manager and best friend Robert. He ensured that I switched off all the trouble around me and focus purely on my music.”
His major breakthrough came in 2015, with the track ‘Round & Round’. The major artists didn’t want to collaborate with F1rstman at first, so he got to work with two friends and two rappers from Amsterdam. Within one day the track was completed and F1rstman decided to spam every DJ in the Netherlands with it. “We sent it to over 700 DJs, almost all of them played it in the clubs that first weekend. We hoped for half a million views in six months. We reached that in one single month. Then the record labels came calling.”
‘Round & Round’ was just the beginning for F1rstman. The track ‘Op En Neer’ followed, which rapidly went gold, his track entitled ‘Squat’ topped it with a platinum status and his latest achievement ‘Overal’ also went gold, and is still growing. F1rstman produces own tracks, collaborates with others, finds the spotlight where he can. As he puts it: “Everything I release must go viral.”
F1rstman is not one for albums, rather making anthems. He unleashes his tracks on the world looking for maximum effect. “My tracks must have a long-term impact within as wide a target group as possible. They need to still be played in 20 years. I only make an album if I can create an effect like The Weeknd has. That every track enters the Top 40 and each track gets its own video clip.”
It’s only a matter of time for that to become a reality. With his energy, his confidence, 100k unique streams a day, 1.5 million unique views a week and his pure talent, F1rstman can genuinely be called an entertainer. The Pitbull of the Netherlands. As he himself says: “It doesn’t matter if you place me in a nursing home or at a kindergarten. I guarantee that the public will go crazy for it.”
Listening to his tracks, it’s not hard to imagine a large venue packed with a partying audience. Not without reason does this ambitious artist dream of taking his live shows to a higher level. If it was up to F1rstman, he won’t just perform on stage in the future, but with a full live band. So that the F1rstman sound doesn’t just surround you, but reaches the depths of your soul.
All this with his parents and his 4-year-old daughter in the back of his mind. “I don’t do anything without my parents’ blessing, my daughter is my angel. Since I have her, I’m much more positive in life. That’s why I want to go just as far as Bruno Mars or Beyoncé. What they have is what I wish to achieve. The more people I can make happy, the better. Give a smile, create a smile. That’s my motto.”