He’s the Italian star with Egyptian roots who overcame xenophobic politicians en route to placing second at Eurovision 2019. And now Mahmood has landed on the cover of GQ Middle East — yet another sign of his continuous rise in the world of pop.
Just as Mahmood’s Eurovision song “Soldi” came with unexpected structure and rhythm, the magazine says Mahmood is beating his own drum straight to the top. The magazine cover confidently declares “Mahmood: Pop’s New Megastar Defies Every Rule.”
Naturally the story comes with some proper lewks. Mahmood, who is known for playing with the contemporary and avant-garde, appears in a series of fashion-forward looks, from a tailored blue and orange tartan coat from Prada to an enormous red coat from Maison Margiela.
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? ???? @gqmiddleeast ???? Photography: @lucaanzalonestudio Styling: @susanna_ausoni Interview: @nasri.atallah Editor-in-Chief: @adambaidawi Production: @artolicaproduction Junior producer: @malaikanaik Makeup artist: @elena_gaggero Hair stylist: @rulesofcisko Assistants: @cloph, @il_diegone_
As we reported back in February, Mahmood came under attack following his win at Sanremeo. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini revealed he preferred the runner-up Ultimo to Mahmood, and questioned whether “Soldi” was “the most beautiful Italian song”. The comment from Salvini seemed loaded to many, since Salvini is very critical of foreigners and asylum seekers and especially given that “Soldi” includes some words in Arabic. It unleashed vitriol online, with people taking swipes at Mahmood for having an Egyptian father.
In his interview with GQ, Mahmood put a positive spin on the drama.
“I think that in any big number of people, there’s always someone who will understand the right story, the right message,” he said. “It’s important to speak to those people. And there will always be people who speak against you. Against your race, your politics. They’ll always exist.”
“I’m happy about the past year. Everything that happened to me was good. In a certain way, it was necessary for my music to become known. I’m so happy about that.”
How does he feel about acknowledging his heritage in his music?
“It’s very, very important to me. I think that all my roots are in my music. I want to speak about my story. My past. It’s important for me to tell a story in which people can see their own stories. So many people sent me messages on Instagram saying, ‘Thank you for this, it’s like you’re talking about my life.’ It’s important for me to put my Arabic roots, my Sardinian roots and my Italian roots into the music.”
The optimism of his GQ interview mirrors the tone he had when we spoke in Tel Aviv last year after his first rehearsal. Hear more from Mahmood here.
Are you loving Mahmood’s high-fashion looks? What magazine do you want to see him in next? Shout it out down below!