Saturday, November 11, 2017
Thursday, November 9, 2017
When I first heard Doha based, Egyptian rapper MVRS spit, I was impressed with his vibe and he also proved that there are a lot of Arab rappers out there that really go for that international sound and for me this is where I come in & try to push these artists to reach their goals. At the end of the day, Hip-Hop is a self expression art-form and language should not be a barrier. For Arab rappers, Hip-Hop is still its own universal language, whether the artists decide ti rely on Arabic lyricism or the familiar western flair.
Had a one on one talk with him. See the full interview below and support this brother.
Shout out to all my brothers in Doha:
ElNasser who is also Egyptian and does Arabic rap and is someone whose always been supporting re-volt
Tell Re-Volt how you first got into Hip-Hop?
It was the self-expression side of hip-hop that really got me into it. The first song I heard was When I’m Gone by Eminem. I was blown away by the magnitude of emotion conveyed in just three/four minutes.
I had a Poetry chapter in English class at the time and we were tasked with writing a poem about a topic of our choice. Each student had to recite the poem in front of the entire class. I couldn’t. My English was too bad at the time. The teacher recites my poem instead. He bursts into tears and tells me that it was the most powerful thing he had read from a student in years.
I believe that these two things coinciding is what drove me to add instrumentals to my words and give this rhythm & poetry thing a shot.
How did the name "MVRS" come about?
It was quite a journey getting to MVRS. I started rapping by the name Aymar which was just an easier way to spell/pronounce my name to those who couldn’t speak Arabic. Fast forward years later, an old friend made a pun with last half of my actual name; AmMar; that’s when Mars was born.
The more I grew, the more I realized how the name Mars as is, would cause issues in terms of my online presence. When you’d google Mars, all you’d get on the first page are planet images. I needed to separate my self to stand out, and mvrs was the result.
Tell us about the Hip-Hop scene in Doha.. how's that like?
Qatar's Hip-hop scene has shown tremendous growth over the past 10 years, but it has the potential to do much more. It is still relatively pre-mature if you compare it to some of the regional or international scenes. It does however have artists passionately pursuing all four elements of the genre; Rapping, Djing, Graffiti Writing, and B-boying.
When I started my journey as an artist, I thought I was the only one doing it. A few years later I was happily startled when I’ve come to discover fellow artists such as Trak (who was a little older in the scene), Y-Kay (who is now based in Dubai), and a few other ones. I was quick to approach them to collaborate.
Around 2012 we put out a 25-track album titled Beleaf; a collaborative project between myself and three other rappers. That was the birth of Hip Hop as a scene in Doha. A group of artists collectively collaborating to express themselves. Nothing had come out of the city with that much reach at the time. It was the first time music from the city had made it to local radio stations. It was a blessing.
As an artist who was born and raised in Doha, I feel a strong and deep connection to its hip-hop scene, specifically the rapping element. I feel like it grew with me. Every new milestone for me, was and still is a new milestone for us as a scene.
Hence why I feel like I have this urge of responsibility to pave the way for the next generation. There’s a new wave of dope younger rappers, singers, and producers, some of which, I’m still discovering. I have spent the last year and a bit trying to take the Doha scene beyond the city and show the world that we have artists that can make music up to par with your favorite international artists; a fine example here is ROSEGOLD.
How does it work with you culturally.. where is home for you? Is it Doha & if so why?
I’ve always had a tough time answering this question since I was a child. It’s a lifetime identity crisis...
By blood and passport, I am Egyptian. My roots are from there. I feel a connection to its history and heritage. On the other hand, I was born and raised in Doha, Qatar. I’ve lived my entire life here.
But can anyone really say they’re from one place nowadays? We live in the age of globalized societies. We’re a generation of 3rd Culture Kids. We strongly belong to bits and pieces from different places to the point where we sometimes feel like we don’t belong at all.
What are your thoughts on Hip-Hop generally nowadays? and who are some of your favorite rappers?
I think Hip-Hop is at it’s prime right now. It’s the most listened-to genre in the world according to an analysis done by Spotify and as far as numbers are concerned, It’s the number one selling genre in the U.S. That would technically make Rap, the new “Pop” or popular music.
Hip-Hop has had various phases in the past where it was infatuated with a certain mood. Artists who did anything away from that mood, would not be successful. Nowadays, it has become so versatile in its flavors. Whether you’re just trying to jam to a melody and have a good time, or looking for a more conscious sound with a real message; there’s someone out there doing just that and a few others who’ve merged the two together.
While you can catch me a lot of the times, in the mood for some straight up bars; I personally strongly appreciate melody in music. Prime examples of that, are rappers like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Chance the Rapper, and more recently Joey Bada$$ with his very last album.
A personal favorite of mine is Isaiah Rashad with his very effortless and trill vibes. I also really appreciate versatile artists like Tory Lanez who seems to be able to do it all. Sing, rap, harmonize; you name it.
Other artists that you’d find in my playlists right now are Post Malone, PartyNextDoor, Majid Jordan, Roy Woods, Bryson Tiller, Belly, Travis Scott and even the occasional Migos/Gucci Mane track haha.
You're taking part in the Emerging Talent Competition organized by Yasalam for this year. Sadly, you weren't able to make it to Dubai and experience the workshops; but tell us about the experience and what would it mean to you if you go to the 2nd round?
It’s been actually quite a journey with Yasalam. The first time I touched base with them was ETC 2015. However, at the time, the competition wasn’t open for artists outside of the UAE. In 2016, they approached me and the homie Trak to perform at one of the smaller venues in the festival. We thought it was amazing that artists from Qatar were asked to perform outside of the city.
This year, they opened up the competition to artists outside the UAE, and it’s a blessing to have been shortlisted.
I really wish I was able to make it to the workshops and I am sure it would’ve been a wonderful experience meeting all those artists and industry networks. But it is what it is. I still have a strong feeling that I will make it to the 2nd round, even with all the odds against us. I’ve had dreams of me sharing the stage with Kendrick Lamar when I was younger. It would be an unimaginable experience and it might just happen this year.
|"Out Of Bounds" Album by MVRS|
"Out Of Bounds" is an album that you dropped about 5 months ago. How's the feedback? and what sort of messages you got on the album?
Out of Bounds was the album that made my sound reach beyond the city. Since I released it incrementally, song by song, over the span of a whole year; it was a growth experience for me. With every song released, the feedback was better and the reach was even bigger.
It’s the national anthem to my identity. It tells my side of the story as a 3rd culture kid, who at his highest, feels like he belongs everywhere, and at his lowest, feels like he belongs nowhere.
Do you feel pressured that you're an Arab yet you don't rap in Arabic?
Not at all. I am very aware of the fact that my music could reach a much broader audience had I rapped in Arabic. But I started making music simply for myself to listen to and enjoy. Not to sound narcissistic haha; but I am my biggest fan. That will always be key for me; making music that I enjoy listening to.
Music was not a big part of my life growing up. My parents never cared much for music. So, unlike many of my Arab friends, I never got exposed to the Arabic side of it. That even includes classics like Fairuz, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Umm Kulthum.
I went straight into Hip-Hop; more specifically American Hip-Hop, which I was exposed to by my friends in middle school. I obsessed a little I won’t lie, and since then I wanted to reach that level. I wanted to take my story to the world, and it’s much harder to do so if you’re rapping in any language other than English.
That being said; my music is a reflection of self, so you’ll always catch me throwing in Arabic phrases which I use on daily bases. My debut album was titled “Theeb” which is a term that has been used in the Arab culture to describe loyalty, bravery, and wittiness.
Who are some of your favorite rappers in the region?
Oh, man.. you really boxed me in with the word “rapper”, well;
• The HRMNY camp is one of my favorite sounds from the region. The way Moh Flow, Majeed, and AY make moves is truly inspiring.
• I see Kshr, the Arab J. Cole, also doing his thing haha; we’re cooking something up together soon so look out for that!
• I also think RoTation from Sudan is really dope.
• Confait from Bahrain is also one of my personal favorites in the region. I feel like he needs to be more heard.• Mack is also mad talent and I am looking forward to his next release.
• Y-Kay who’s psychotic with the pen and dope with the visuals
• Menon has also been killing it with his last few releases.
• N1yah, who came a very long way since the first time I’ve heard her back in 2015. Word is she can really sing, so I’m looking forward to hear more of that.
• Last but not least, the homie Trak. I specifically respect his mad work ethic and dedication to the craft.
• I have also been mildly tapping into the Arabic rap side with artists like Flippter, Slow Mo, and Moayad Al Naefaie.
What is your dream?
My dream is to become an icon. An influential sound. I want to tell my story to the world and inspire younger artists to the do the same. I want to give opportunities I didn’t have, to any person pursuing a passion of theirs; whatever it may be.
I want to meet the greats of my generation and surpass them. I have this recurring vision of me being in the studio with Kendrick Lamar, telling him how “I think this adlib isn’t working here” haha.
You have been featured on many of the biggest blogs/sites for Hip-Hop in the US. Is the feedback coming from the US different than the ones you getting from the Arab region?
Surprisingly, I’ve received similar feedback on both sides as far as constructive criticism is concerned. Both sides seem to stress on very similar highlights, be it negative or positive.
Culturally, however, the feedback will inevitably be different. In the US, you’re seen as an “outsider looking in”. In the Arab region, you’re “on the inside looking out.” It’s a very interesting dynamic.
That being said; I’ve been very proud of the growing culture in the regional scene. Artists are pushing each other up from across the region and it only shows how music can truly break borders.
What're the future plans for MVRS?
As far as the near future; just more music man. I always tell artists that consistency is key to any sort of artistic growth. I’ve been very proud of how my sound progressed so far and I know there’s so much more room for growth.
I also plan to collaborate with a lot of the artists I mentioned previously. I really think collabs bring out the best of each artist and give the fans a fresh sound.
As you know, the Middle East is a political "spaghetti", a lot of issues always going on. Do you ever address politics in your music & if no, why not?
On a personal level, I have zero interest in politics. I don’t indulge much in it in actual conversation, so you’ll rarely catch me talking about it in my music.
I write on a very personal level. As if I am having a conversation with the listener. I am more interested in society and its affairs. These are topics we have much more control over than politics. These are things a person can truly change if they are inspired by my music and my story.
Tell Re-Volt something not a lot of people know about you
Hip-Hop taught me English.
Before 10th grade, I was around 15, the only English I knew was “verb to be” and “verb to have” or whatever they taught in public schools at the time. In a sudden change of heart, my parents moved me from an all Arabic curriculum to an all English curriculum school. The transition was borderline traumatic...
In the same year, I found Hip-Hop. I used to print Eminem’s lyrics, read them while listening every night before going to bed, and then recite them on the way to school the next morning. Hip-hop improved my English, which in turn, improved my Hip-Hop.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Call it a mix, a mixtape, a sound clip, a wave... whatever you decide to call it.. know that its very cool and dope to see that some of the best artists in the Arab Region is on this Mixtape done by Dubai based DJ "Dj Liutik"
This is only Vol. 1 & I for one support these kinda of initiatives because it will only spread the word out.
Give it a listen, share it & enjoy. Click Play ;)
Monday, November 6, 2017
|Canadian/Palestinian Producer/Singer Rosegold|
When I first found out about Palestinian-Canadian producer Rosegold, I was extremely happy to see a female music producer from the region. I then discovered that she also has a great voice which for me is also incredible and its a no-brainer not to feature talent like that on Re-Volt. I believe it is a duty on any person who has a voice to reflect & support these kind of talents. I wish her the best and I am sure she will be able to make a huge impact in the music scene in Arabia.
Below is a Q/A with Rosegold whose based in Doha,Qatar.
Also check out her latest track featuring MVRS (interview with him is out soon)
Big Hass: How did you get into music production?
Rosegold: This is gonna sound cliche, but I really think it was just a sweet twist of fate! I was a media and film student at a university in Canada, and one of the courses offered was an introduction into music production and sound design.
Being me, I always loved to know how things were made, be it movie magic (the reason I got into film), or a beautiful musical composition. And I revelled in the satisfaction of knowing that I could make that kind of magic happen, like I was in on some secret not many know about. So I took the course. And it definitely changed my life. Since then I've listened to music differently. Music was no longer just a beat and some vocals; it became layers of sounds that I could hear and feel. Every song became a chemical compound I was trying to deconstruct. I started asking myself "what sounds combined on a 4/4 beat would make one wholesome frequency that changes or compliments a mood I was feeling?" "How do I make these sounds materialize?" "How do I manipulate them so that I have full control over their effects?". And so I learned, and I'm still learning.
BH: Why RoseGold as an artist name?
RG: Simply, because its my favourite color and it fits my aesthetic nicely ;)
BH:You have a beautiful voice. Who inspired you to start singing? take us back to when you realized you can sing!
RG: Thank you! I don't know if this is going to be the plot-twist of the day, but actually, I started singing when I was 14 and trying to cover some Avril Lavigne and Paramore songs. I was that Angsty Awkward Teen™ that sang in her room pretending to shock her classmates with a rock show performance at the school talent show hahaha. So I picked up a guitar and learned one of Avril's four chord songs (probably Complicated or I Will Be. I don't remember too vividly) and did actually try to perform...I completely bombed it haha. So I actually didn't start singing again until I left my rocker/punk phase behind and discovered softer indie songs, then eventually r&b. I realized "hey, maybe this is more for me", and it was. I started to cover songs by Banks, Lana Del Rey, Florence and the Machine, then Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and even some Motown tunes, and I felt more in my element.
Still, I hardly performed at shows cause I was still reeling from that time in high school, but I had a lot of fun doing covers with some of my talented friends in Canada and Qatar. And at the end of the day, it really should be about the fun of it all.
BH: In your own words, how do you see the music scene in Doha?
RG: I think it needs a chance. I'm sure many have said this before, but there's a lot of untouched talent in the city, and I think that's because the platforms and resources needed to boost these artists up are not as easily accessible or as abundant as they are elsewhere. I know, upon moving to Qatar last year, if I hadn't met Mvrs and Trak, I'd probably still be producing mini beats in my bedroom and doing nothing with them because I wouldn't know where to take them here! They knew the city better than I did and they are well established artists, so they showed me the ropes and introduced me to the new wave of other young, dynamic, versatile, and incredibly gifted Arab artists in the region. That really inspired me to keep going with my music here in Doha.
BH: How's that EP coming along with MVRS? What can you tell us about it? Will you be producing all of it?
RG: The EP is honestly a product of realizing the incredible musical chemistry Mvrs and I have, whether making music in Trak's studio or just jamming in the car to our mutual favourite artists. Over the course of the year, he's become the older brother I never had and (sometimes) wanted haha. After we recorded Make U Wait in an impromptu studio session during a vacation we took with our friends, we confirmed that there's a lot of potential we could unlock in one another. He encouraged me to sing again when I wanted to just be comfortable in music production, and conversely, the music I produced brought him back to his roots as a melodic rapper. And it just worked! And now we have an EP in the works that I'm producing in full and we're both vocally present on.
BH: Who are some of the talent you like from the region?
RG: What I love about artists in the Middle East is that they each have their particular thing, a trait unique to themselves that gets me hooked on their music. For example, I like N1yah for her ability to freestyle in real time, and her singing voice is outta this world. I like Shébani's lyrical repertoire as well as her creative music video concepts - I could watch her clips on loop! Our boys in the UAE - Menon, Majeed, Mohflow - are crazy epic rappers too. AY the Producer, Bailouni, and Sarah Nabil got insane production skills. There are other artists (Narcy, Omarion Shihottie, Meryem Saci, Mashrou' Leila, Kshr..I could go on!) that actually don't reside in the region, but are originally from a MENA country, and they're making a name for themselves and putting us on the map everywhere around the world, and I think that's profound.
BH: Being Palestinian/Canadian , how does that affect your production/songwriting? (or how is that represented in your music)?
RG: The intersections of my identity do end up seeping in the sounds I produce, however it's not simple to explain. I used to run the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights club at my university, and during that time I attended and participated in a few spoken word functions that took place on campus. I used to write poetry that explicitly focused on the Palestinian Diasporic plight of having no home to return to and nowhere that I feel I truly belonged. That began to translate in my early musical compositions which are unreleased, but sometimes when I couldn't find the words to express how I felt about my Palestinian identity, I found solace in composing instrumental pieces. That began to develop my confidence in playing the keys, which I eventually combined with percussion I picked up from the Toronto music scene. I will admit that, musically, I identify more with the Canadian scene than anything else, simply because I've lived there for years and I have a direct emotional connection to the music through the memories they take me back to and through the relevance of the lyrical content to my lived experiences. The soft and sampled r&b sound paired with low-fi trappy percussion is what Toronto and London Ontario sound like to me, which is why my music draws a lot from this sound - it sounds like home.
BH: What kind of feedback have you been getting on your production & songwriting?
RG: I'm always grateful about the feedback I receive because it is nothing but positive feedback from everyone I know. I have my close circle of friends who will always push me to strive for better by giving constructive criticism (like if a kick drum is too loud etc), and I love them for their honesty and support. As for songwriting, the only person I seek feedback from on my lyrics at the moment is Mvrs actually. I don't like sharing my lyrics with anyone before they hear me sing them, especially if I write from a vulnerable personal perspective. But with Mvrs, I think he is very lyrically gifted and I trust him to always tell me if something I write sounds good or could be better - he's basically been kinda like a mentor to me haha. I've been writing poetry for years, but haven't been writing songs for a long time, and the latter has proven to be more challenging than the former. But like I said before, I learned and I'm still learning.
BH: Who would you like to work with worldwide & from our region?
RG: To be honest with you, I'm still new to the scene, so I wanna work with everybody! Right now it feels like there are no limits to what I can and want to do, I just want to experiment and learn as I go. But if I were to pick a few artists now, it'll have to be Kehlani, Jhene Aiko, Quinn, SZA, and Tyler the Creator from worldwide. All of them are major influencers on my sound at the moment, especially Kehlani, but that's cause I'm biased - I've got a major crush on her voice and style! As for regional, I'd say Shébani, N1yah, Meryem Saci, Narcy, and Mohflow - all different vibes, but all talents I would love to partake in projects with.
BH: Tell Re-Volt something not a lot of people know about you..
RG: There was a brief moment in time where I was going to choose "Pandz" or "Panda" as my producer name because that's been my nickname for years to everybody that knows me....I'm really glad I didn't go with that, especially after Desiigner dropped his single "Panda" LOL. My friends still call me Pandz though, and almost never by my real name.
BH: I truly fell in love with your talent & production. Big up Trak & MVRS for introducing me to you. What are your final words to re-volt blog?
RG: Thank you so much Big Hass, it's your support and the encouragement I've received from everyone over the music I've released so far that keeps me going and pushes me to do better. Let's keep the scene thriving in the region!
Listen to MVRS Ft Rosegold track entitled "Way" & you will understand how amazingly talented these guys are.