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Iranian-American Rapper Shatters Stereotypes

LOS ANGELES, California - Azad Right is not a traditional rapper. At 24 years old, he has a political science degree and is Iranian-American.

“Being on stage is the best part about this," he says, "being able to see these kids and these people’s reactions to your music, the stuff you spent a year making and you see people [say] 'This is really really good, I can relate to this.' That’s what makes me tingle."

The performer's real name is Azad Naficy and he's the son of the famous Iranian poet and political exile, Majid Naficy. Right grew up watching people listen to his father's poetry readings around the world, something that had a big influence on him.

“Being able to see the reaction people gave him," he says, "that’s one of the reasons I always want to go on stage and express my feelings.”

But, as an Iranian-American, expressing himself through rap has its challenges.

"I've seen a lot of comments on the YouTube videos and on the blogposts like 'Yo, this kid, when I first saw him, his image on the site, I didn't expect him to rap.'"

In the U.S., hip-hop and rap are mostly dominated by African-Americans and Latinos. Right is trying to break that stereotype.

“I don’t think there should be any culture, any heritage, that doesn’t have a representative in that industry,” he says.

Two of the people helping Right overcome those cultural boundaries are former classmates who are now his producers.

“I don’t think the world has ever seen anything like us," says producer Jonathan Marquez, who is of Puerto Rican and Guatamalan descent.

Co-producer Omid Adami, also an Iranian-American, says the team's mixed ethnicities are already breaking barriers.

“This generation is much more accepting of people like us," Adami says. "I feel like once our music does reach the masses, it’ll be much more appreciated. We’ll definitely pave the way for a lot of people like us who didn’t really think it was possible.”

For Right, his name symbolizes what's possible. The name "Azad" means freedom in Farsi.

“It’s something my parents didn’t have,” he says.

Freeing the music industry of cultural bias is one of those things he believes is possible.

Thought also went into how he came up with the rapper name "Right."

“I always liked to write," he says. "I didn’t like the way w-r-i-t-e looked. One day we were just sitting and just switched it to r-i-g-h-t. 'Your music is positive; it looks better.'”

His dream is to succeed at what he loves - writing and performing his words on stage.