Posted on April 27, 2014

HIP-HOP IN SAUDI ARABIA

Talks

Hassane Dennaoui is a name synonymous with the emerging hip-hop scene embracing the Middle East. Known more famously as Big Hass you are sure to come across this guy when discussing the state of hip-hop in the region. A fellow supporter and advocate for regional talent he has been paving the way for all things hip-hop in the Middle East for years. A huge supporter of regional talent he is often found promoting talents from all over the region.

Educating the people from one of his many platforms, which include hosting a weekly radio spot appropriately named “LAISH hip hop”? A popular blog “Re-Volt” and most recently an E-magazine similarly named.

 

A
pioneer, lover and fan of hip-hop Big Hass is easily the most important person
in Hip Hop in the Middle East. The radio personality, blogger and most recently
magazine owner/creator has one thing to spread and that is hip-hop. We had a chance to get to know the man behind it all, in a candid interview.

Q: Where
did your love for hip-hop stem from? Do you recall the track; album or MC that
lead you to what has now been a life-long relationship with hip-hop?
Believe it or not, I wasn’t much into Hip-Hop. Growing up in Saudi Arabia, I was exposed to the music of our generation. I do remember that I used to listen to Biggie and I loved the way he used words to describe his struggle.
I would say this, in 2009; when I first heard Iraqi/British MC “Lowkey”; this movement of Hip-Hop awakened me; his words, his passion and his realness shook something in my brain-cells and made me want to get into this movement even more. He and a couple more artists were the reason why I launched “re-volt radio blog”. It was great to hear someone talking about things that are related to us as youth & not only talking about the “fast life” or “the money that is raining from the sky”, etc. – the words were real, powerful & authentic.
Q:You are most notably titled the pioneer of hip-hop in the Middle East. The brains behind a radio show, blog and magazine dedicated to hip-hop. Did you ever think that you would be this influential for the state of hip-hop in the region?
First, I thank you for the words. I am just a human being that supports authentic & genuine art. It is the people & the artists that supported me along the way that should be credited with that. I believe we are one human-body, one world and my passion towards showcasing a different perception about Hip-Hop is the reason why I am in this place today. It has been a great & tough journey but I see change and that change is what keeps me going – Alhamdulillah. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I reach this level. It was more of a blog and just me telling my “buddies” to check this or that artist out; but just me telling my “buddies” to check this or that artist out; & drive took control of this journey and people from all over the world connected with me because of that. I am not an intellectual person, I am a soul that is driven
behind my passion & fight to always expose the truth and the believe that music lyrics can elevate minds.
                    
Q: Why do you think that the presence and/or the spread of the hip-hop culture in the Middle East region is lagging in comparison to the rest of the world?
It is mainly because hip-hop culture isn’t truly understood in the Middle East; it is mainly taken as a form of music only, and due to the fact that record labels, Radios & TV keep pushing Hip-Hop as sort of “Low” art; our people are judging this culture as a bad one. My job being in the scene is to change the wrong perception people have about hip-hop by giving them a second look at what this culture can do to our youth. Hip-Hop can be used to elevate, connect,
and inspire our youth. That being said, 99% of our pop songs (Arabic) are about Love – don’t get me wrong, I LOVE. LOVE, but our life contains way more things than that, we need to start talking to our youth about their issues, and just be real. We need to balance the entertainment industry especially in the Arab World where the support of local artist is not that huge.

 

Q: Where do you see hip-hop in the Middle East going? Where do you dream it will be in 5 years?
I dream of organizing an Arab Hip-Hop festival & conferences. I hope in 5 years we see artists breaking through and becoming more than just dollar signs.
Q: If I were a newbie to the Middle East hip-hop scene, whom would you recommend I listen to?
That is a tough question, the list is huge, but you can begin with these amazing names:
Omar Offendum (Syrian/American) / The Narcicyst (Iraqi/Canadian) / Shadia Mansour (Palestinian/British)/ Boikutt (Palestinian) / El-Far3i (Palestine/Jordan) / DJ Lethal Skillz
(Lebanon) / Arabian Knightz (Egypt) / Lowkey (Iraq/British) / Fareeq Al Atrash
(Lebanon) / Black Bannerz (Syria) / Anas Arabi (Syria) / Speech (Saudi) / &
many more – check out Revoltradio.blogspot.com J
Q: If you
could leave the readers with who Big Hass thinks are the top 5 rappers of all
time?
WOW! Well
I might sound controversial but here it is:
5. Lowkey
4.Brother Ali
3.KRS-ONE
2.NAS/PAC
1.Biggie
There are a lot of MC’s; in my opinion, I don’t believe in ranking, each MC gives me personally mind elevation and at the same expands my horizon.
Bonus Q: Most recently, the utmost controversial verse in hip-hop was Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s track “Control”. If familiar with it, I would love to know your take on it. What was your opinion of it?  Did it warrant the reaction it got? Was it needed?

I think it sparked a great deal of “Competition” and it was needed. I do think that it was  a bit
over hyped; but I am a big fan of Lamar and I do see great future for him.
For more information on Big Hass look below: 
RE-VOLT BLOG
RE-VOLT MAGAZINE
TED X TALK
BBC NEWS Get Connect to Big Hass: 
FB PAGE 
TWITTER 
INSTAGRAM

Hope you enjoyed.
Much Love,

 

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