Rajabian captured the interests of American producer Harvey Mason Jr., who serves as president and CEO of the Grammys. Mason is releasing Rajabian’s album, “Coup of Gods,” under his own label.
“I just thought it was beautiful,” Mason said of Rajabian’s music. Mason told Fox News that when Rajabian shared his music, “I was really excited and thought the music was amazing and so artistically special and really compelling.”
Rajabian’s latest album serves in part as a reflection on the suffering he endured while under detention. After one of his arrests in 2015, he went on a 40-day hunger strike that inspired the first track on his new album, “Whip on a Lifeless Body.”
“This piece is the narrator of a human body that no longer has a physical presence,” he told Sky News. “The feeling is for the time when I was on a hunger strike, between earth and sky, between life and death, between the living and the dead … On the 29th day of the hunger strike, I opened my eyes that morning, and I did not know whether I was alive or dead, on earth or in heaven. I was in a trance. It was a strange feeling.”
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested Rajabian in 2013 when his recording studio violated a prohibition on female singers. “Coup of Gods,” an apparent re-declaration of rebellion, features vocals from two American women, Digital Music News reported.
Announcing the album last year prompted 90 days of solitary confinement that seems to have wounded but also emboldened the 31-year-old dissident. “After every darkness, there is a light … I am optimistic about the future,” he said, according to Sky News.
A return to prison seems imminent as he’s reportedly under a three-year suspended sentence that could easily be reactivated. The trial that preceded his 2015 arrest lasted only a few minutes. He and his brother were found guilty of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “insulting the sacred.”
Music, however, is a necessity for Rajabian that warrants sacrifice.
“I do not think about the consequences of producing a work of art, and I am ready for any consequences,” he said, according to the BBC. “They can imprison me again. I [will] also write music in prison, as I wrote before. Music will not stop under any circumstances.”
He previously told Fox News: “Solitary confinement kills one’s soul, and the hunger strike kills one’s body, which I experienced both. I went on two separate hunger strikes, the last one lasted for more than a month where I lost 33 pounds, and my body suffered damage of which I’m still trying to cure.”
Rajabian’s suffering has impacted both the content and production of his music. BBC reported that his hunger strike left him with swollen joints that prevented him from playing his own music.
Musicians around the world have filled in the gaps, producing songs scored by Rajabian and sending them back to the basement where he’s been hiding in Northern Iran.
Fox News’ Hollie McKay contributed to this report.