A published writer, media entrepreneur, entertainer, and all-round creative, Kareem Rahma is one to watch. “My whole career is summed up in juxtapositions, but I would mostly attribute where I am today to luck.” The Egyptian-born creative grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and majored in journalism. His first job after college was in advertising, a profession he wasn’t curious to explore further.
Ironically, Kareem was offered a job at VICE to support one of their biggest advertisers, a role that fits his advertising and journalism background. The New York Times sought him after, where he helped launch Times Video.
Rahma’s early career was what he calls a series of fortunate events, placing him at an intersection of new media and storytelling.
After what felt like the right time to start his own thing, Kareem launched Nameless Network, a video content platform curating smart content for the smartphone generation. Rahma believed there was a gap in the market to connect short viral video content with ideas and subjects that matter. “I was young, I was confident, and I had nothing to lose.” In 2018, Rahma launched The Museum of Pizza, an immersive pop-up exhibition that took Brooklyn by storm, featuring a cheese cave, a pizza beach, and artwork by over 25 artists.
Rahma’s intention was to celebrate and showcase the cultural phenomenon of pizza. Kareem describes his artistic aim, “I’ve always felt I’ve had so many things inside of me and re-inventing myself every couple of years has always made me feel happy. Now my focus is storytelling and creativity.”
What has remained the same for Rahma is his constant pursuit of creativity. His first book, We Were Promised Flying Cars, came out of note-taking. He had a collection of written notes, voice notes, and single-line emails with an idea, which he was now able to communicate with an audience.
After a course of what he calls “blind luck,” Rahma was invited to a conference in Beirut, a city he had been drawn to for a while.
Post-Trump-election in his Beirut hotel room, he found himself deeply frustrated but inspired, knowing he was in the right place to come up with something new. In the middle of the night, he wrote down, “we were promised flying cars.”
The next morning, he knew this was meant to be a collection of Haiku poetry about the future. Other than the political climate that sparked his inspiration, one major influence for Rahma was the discovery of an illustration series called A 19th-Century Vision of the year 2000 by Jean-Marc Cote and other artists. The set of illustrations depicting the future was, in some ways inaccurate, but not completely unbelievable.
This result was a huge inspiration for Rahma’s process, “If aliens were to find the book in the future, I would want it to be funny as a result of it being either so accurate or so inaccurate.”
Immersive experiences and diverse journalism have led Kareem into a new form of media, his conversational podcast You People. The series showcases diverse voices through cultural storytelling. You People is a safe space for furious subject matters, frequently touching on what it means to be immigrants and a person of color in America today. “It’s a live experiment- a therapeutic place not just for me as a host but for those on the show,” Rahma says.
With a foot in just about every form of media, he knows authentic storytelling. “I personally rally against algorithms and the way they have taken over the internet.”
Kareem commits to bringing back a human aspect and a realness to storytelling. It’s just the beginning for the artist, who’s working on more writing, comedy, and different forms of sharing genuine narratives. “You’re the star of your own show, but that’s the case for everyone else. You just have to do what you have to do, and never stop doing it.”