Michael Abayev, a 20-year-old rapper from Ashkelon, professionally known as Miki, never planned on becoming a musician.
Yet now, his latest track ‘My Star’ (‘Kochav Shellee’ in Hebrew), recorded with singer Tehila Bariach and inspired by the October 7th tragedy, has propelled him far beyond the confines of Ashkelon, surpassing even his wildest dreams.

A Painful Journey

Miki’s path to becoming a musician was far from conventional. At the age of 17, he dreamt of serving in the army until an unfortunate shoulder injury shattered that ambition. The injury healed, but the pain only got worse. His right upper body transformed, and sleep became torturous.
Diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Miki found himself in the clutches of one of life’s most excruciating afflictions. «It’s the fourth most powerful pain known to man,» he says.
After more than half a year of restless nights, Miki discovered an unexpected outlet for his emotions. Scrolling through his phone one night, he stumbled upon old notes and began penning down his feelings. By morning, he had written almost two songs.
What started as an attempt to articulate his suffering turned into a therapeutic journey through music.
«Music saved my life,» Miki shares. «It’s the only thing that could help me not concentrate on the pain. It’s my medicine.»
Unable to let go, Miki began writing music incessantly. The process of songwriting became a form of self-therapy, filling the voids in his life. He delved into learning the art of recording and producing, taking courses to bring his musical visions to life within the comfort of his home.
For years, Miki kept his struggles hidden, especially after withdrawing from the army. He felt shame and embarrassment not being able to complete his service, knowing others were wondering why he was 18 or 19 and not in the army like everyone else. As time passed, he has found the courage to open up about his pain, sharing the trauma he had been dealing with via music—the medium through which he navigates the world and processes the challenges life throws at him.

Musical Roots
and Inspiration

That said, musical talent runs deep in the Abayev family. Hailing from Samarkand, his Bukharian Jewish father, a former trumpet player, and his Ukrainian mother, skilled in guitar, piano and dance, infused the household with a rich mélange of sounds and artistic forms. (As for Bukharian music, «I’m only familiar with the hit songs played at gatherings,» says Miki.) While they initially wished for their son to pursue a degree in computing or engineering, like most Soviet-raised parents, they quickly came around to supporting his musical ambitions.
When asked why rap resonates with him, he reflects, «I always ask myself this question. Because it made me feel tough and confident when I wasn’t.»
He found solace and empowerment in crafting his own songs, drawn to the genre’s complexity and the unique ability to turn non-rhyming words into compelling rhyme schemes. Inspired by rap legends like Eminem (Miki remembers his mom played «Stan» when he was four years old) and Tupac, Miki fell in love with the challenge, embracing the genre as a means of self-expression and personal growth.
A Heroic Song

Miki’s profound connection with music took an unexpected turn in the aftermath of October 7th when he came across an interview that would change his life. The story revolved around Irene Shavit, girlfriend of a 21-year-old Canadian-Israeli man named Netta Epstein who threw himself upon a grenade to save her during the Hamas terror attacks in Kfar Aza. This selfless act resonated deeply with Miki, momentarily alleviating his own pain.
«I couldn’t move; I was so drawn into the story,» Miki recalls being hypnotized while staying with his sister when Irene’s interview came on TV. «As she was talking, my whole body went numb. It’s the first time that my pain moved a bit aside, making room for a new pain that I didn’t know before.»
The impact was so intense that Miki found himself writing the chorus of a song in 30 seconds, a musical tribute to Irene and Netta’s story.
Teaming up with producer Ron Ashkeneizer, Miki rented an Airbnb in Netanya, where the song came to life in just three nights — a dizzying speed at which he’s never created before.
Despite this, they deliberated over every single word and lyric; the emotional weight of the song scared Miki, fearing he might inadvertently offend or upset Irene. Particularly, the line «I still keep Goldstar in the fridge in case you come back» was a source of debate.

A Collaborative Effort

Renowned producer Tom Forman, a luminary in the Israeli and UK music scene, recognized the potential of Miki’s creation and joined the project. Together, they refined the song, infusing it with an unmistakable Israeli touch.
Elated with the final product, Miki’s decision to send the song to Irene (he DMed her on Instagram) turned out to be a pivotal moment. She loved it, and the line about the Goldstar beers (Netta dreamt of owning his own brewery), much to his relief. Both families reacted and said they listen to it all the time.
«Her reply had me in tears. Helping someone through my music is more to me than numbers,» Miki emphasizes.
The impact on Irene and both families transcended mere statistics, affirming the profound role that music can play in healing.
«The song is more than anything I could ever imagine,» says Miki.

Music as Therapy
in Times of Conflict

Living in Israel, where conflict is an ever-present reality, Miki recognizes the therapeutic power of music. «It’s so important that we have musicians and comedians visiting hospitals, making people happy» at this time of distress, he says. For Miki, music has been a personal lifeline, helping him process the pains of war and the challenges faced by his family during turbulent times.
Reflecting on his own experience, Miki shares, «Music helped me cope with things I never thought possible.» He recalls sitting in a bomb shelter with his family on October 7th, finding solace in the melodies that momentarily transcended the chaos outside, while clutching knives.

Future Dreams: Using Music to Make a Difference

Beyond personal healing, Miki aspires to use his music to raise awareness about CRPS, a condition that many people are unfamiliar with. His dream is to host monthly concerts and fill the lives of others with the emotional resonance that music brings.
Despite facing an «invisible disability,» Miki remains resilient, using his music to shed light on the struggles of those with chronic pain. He advocates for awareness and understanding, emphasizing the importance of recognizing conditions like CRPS.
In a world where pain can be both physical and emotional, Miki’s journey from adversity to musical expression is nothing short of inspiring. Through his song «My Star», he has proven the transformative power of music, not just as a personal solace but as a universal language that speaks to the depths of human emotion and connection. As Miki continues to navigate his musical path, one can’t help but anticipate the impact he will make in the realm of music therapy and awareness.
«Thanks to my injury, I’m the best version of myself,» says Miki. Turning life’s greatest challenges into opportunities—and tapping it as a source of compassion and philanthropy—is a goal we should all aspire to have.

Erin Levi

Miki’s music can be found on YouTube, spotify, and Apple music.

My Star?

Good night my star
Keep me safe
I am going to keep you
in my heart
Because know that forever
You are
my star
Even if you don’t come
Just give me a sign
how do you say bye?
How do we proceed from here?
How do we get over?
This day is finally over
A quiet, respectable event that passed
It was hard for me, you weren’t with me
You didn’t teach me how to go through a funeral
Especially when you’re the one they came to see
Lots of people, not enough chairs
Drowning in a sea of consolations and tears
Yesterday was a dream, today a nightmare.
How do you fall asleep without saying good night?
And why should I get up if you’re not here anymore?
If you are no longer here how will the sun rise?
For whom did the moon come out at night?
The crying is suffocating, the face is swollen
The sky darkened, the voices fell silent
People Around me are like 20 curtains
So my star give the power to see.
Good night
my star
Keep me safe
I am going to keep you
in my heart
Because know that forever
You are
my star
The flowers bloomed, cars drove, cold
The dogs barked, the brothers cried, light
A time that passes normally for everyone
Here not moving because you’re not with me
Without noticing it is already the first month
So me and your brothers talked a lot
They laugh at pictures of you sticking out your tongue
The parents say you were a teddy bear.
My love, I still remember the promise of a palace
With the view of the sea, ton of place in the closet
And I said center or north or south
If we are together then I have my place.
Who will make me laugh in a serious moment?
Remember the Kiddush at my place?
my boss’s event?
Tell me how does that make sense?
When you promised it was all the way
«Forever» didn’t feel close
My love, your voice is missing
I still buy your beer; to have in the fridge
Don’t worry everything is arranged here like this if you come back
My star, when are you coming back?
Good night
my star
Keep me safe
I am going to keep you
in my heart
Because know that forever
You are
my star
Mami, time is passing out here
In a second the situation around me will be over
Everyone will return to normal
To worry, to love, to hurry
To wish, to hope, to give up
to cry and laugh, to tell
That there was a war, that there were casualties
But it is over, so don’t worry anymore.
What about me?
A bit relieved that there are no more looks
It’s hard with the silence, but I imagine I’m waiting for you to wake up as usual.
I still have the jacket you wore
The notes you wrote are hanging on the wall
When it’s bad, I remember, if the pillow is empty
There is above
A star
That’s mine