Back in August of last year, we launched our very first live interview series, where we gave viewers a real time look into our interview process as we questioned some of their favorite Middle East artists/DJs/etc. via Twitter.
Our first twitter interview kicked off with Big Hass on August 11, if you missed it, check out the transcript and soak in the wisdom, but before that, a little something about the man.
His name is well known among Hip Hop circles in the Middle East. He started a syndicated radio show (Laish Hip Hop) in Saudi Arabia (believe it or not), performs A&R activities, is an artist manager, and a true Hip Hop head. They don’t call him Big for nothing! Let us not forget that the man’s a father and a husband, and risked a whole lot to follow his love, and dreams, for Hip Hop.
Here we go:
1. 1st off, we hope you had a great Ramadan & Eid. How does it feel to be the 1st artist/DJ interviewed in our new live series?
Big Hass: Blessings to all. It’s a very creative & fun way to conduct interviews & I am real happy to be with all of you now
2. It’s an honor. Let’s start at the root…in your view, what is the current state of Saudi hip-hop & Middle East hip-hop?
Big Hass: YES – keep these kind of questions coming! #Saudi_Hip_Hop is still very young & needs a lot of attention & guidance. It also needs “Spotlight” & support for the true artists that are representing the true culture of Hip Hop within Saudi values. Problem in Saudi is that there are no “PUBLIC” events that allow the artists to showcase their skills so they go to Youtube. My wish for all #Saudi artists is to be real & stop copy/pasting the West (even if you’re just starting) #BeOriginal.
As for The Middle East , the scene is mature but of course needs more support from local radios/events & etc..
3. Being that the scene is very young, do you feel that right now is a very pivotal point in time for the future of the rap scene?
Big Hass: It’s always a pivotal point, there is good Hip Hop in #Saudi – it just needs to be supported & inshalla I will be able to do so. Another issue that is holding the scene down is some major artists are supporting “mindless” / “Fake” ones & that’s a problem. Most of the #Saudi population don’t think of Rap as a talent, they know it degrades the mind from what they see on TV & that’s what I am trying to do via the show & some talks that will happen during the next 6 months addressing Saudi public.
4. Let’s take a step back for a minute…can u briefly share w/ us, how you started & what you had to go thru to get on KSA radio?
Big Hass: In Sept’09, I launched Re-Volt Radio blog in an attempt to revolt against what was/still being played on major FM’s. The blog was supported by major artists in the #ArabicHipHop scene & I connected a lot & discovered a great culture. Using the blog as a vessel, I tried to show (at least my circle of friends) that good/conscious music exists. My dream was to even reach higher & it took a while, because I was rejected to host my show in several Arab nations (Qatar,UAE,Jordan,Lebanon) & the managers of each station told me “We don’t want Arabic Hip Hop..” .. Play us some “jay,z, lil wayne, etc..) I said I ain’t a DJ, I am a Radio Host & want to talk about the #hiphop culture. This is when couple of NEW FM radio stations opened up & it took me around 6 months to convince one of them about the show. That being said, it’s still FM &i am fighting my own battle there too but I will not quit – i have a message & it is 2 Elevate.
5. Seeing the struggles you went through to get to where you’re at, in essence, starting with no real radio experience & creating a format that really had not been fully done before, how do you feel when artists hit you up, complaining & acting as if they’re entitled to a certain position or amount of press/radio play/etc.?
Big Hass: Well, it happens all the time with me ; but I am still HASS , the revolt dude & i can’t accept certain things if I’m not convinced that the artists are genuine. I have a small following & I respect them & they expect from me the Great & unknown. I am no Judge, Allah is the only judge, your works speaks on your behalf. Thing is I feel restricted on the FM due to the fact that now they are monitoring the songs & not all songs can be played – it’s still radio & I STILL do play tracks that don’t make it on any other radio; all i am asking for is be genuine, be real & try to tell a story with your rap.
6. Do you think artists out there really understand the industry? If you look at U.S./Euro formats, it is the program director that usually decides the playlists for the entire station & it is rare that hosts play music outside of that.
Big Hass: Well Payola exists everywhere in different formats, on Saudi Radio, they play a Nicki Minaj trak & reject a power to ppl one Radio should not only be about escapin , it should have some sense & some elevatuon & some #Balance -Its a fact but before my show, not a lot of Hip Hop was playin on radio in Saudi & to this date , directors of radio claim they know Hip Hop by playin Lil Wayne & Rick Ross on Saudi FM, The directors here are just Dumming ppl down My job is to try & limit that and give the listener a diff, point of view of whats being promoted on the masses Directors here think that Hip Hop & poetry aint related.. i am fighting ignorance & sometimes i feel i’m the wrong circle.
7. You’re very passionate about what you promote & the scene in general…please explain to our readers why you think artists like Lil Wayne & Rick Ross, who are at the forefront of hip-hop, have no place being played on Saudi airwaves?
Big Hass: Well, these artists are only selling us whatÆs fake in their lives, theyÆre not even real about it-radio should b more balanced ThereÆs nothing relating to Saudi/Arab culture in what they R saying & its about time we wake up & stop followin the trend. Radios can not keep promotin escapin’ , at some point, Music has to be a tool to elevate people’s minds .
8. You’re very vocal & honest about your opinion of the scene & what goes on in it…do you feel that works against you at times?
Big Hass: No & I see how this can be viewed; but if theres sothn i learnt is to be truthful & vocal about whats RIGHT the people who are following me, expect honest & real opinion & again, i aint no judge, & if u want ur music on my show All you have to do is connect – now; its up to the station to approve it but nevertheless,i will play it on Re-Volt Radio If it has a good message & a genuine feel to it – then YES! I am all about supportng #Local & #regional artists #HipHop Artists have a lot of responsibility; but the listeners as well have the choice to support whats good & support it.
9. True, “artists have a lot of responsibility”…why do you think they usually confront you about issues instead of addressing the source of their complaints/problems & accepting the responsibility of bringing change instead of forcing it on u?
Big Hass: Cool. cuz i am more accessible maybe… I think they can’t relate on how HARD the radio is makin it for me, I will tell u The radio makes it very difficult on ME & i specify only me , cuz i’m the only guy in the station dat gets new songs everyone else has automatic playlist, so the management checks all the tracks & they are very ignorant about it. They allow a “threemsome in a pool” track & they reject a track talkin about the #WorkLife of a Saudi & how hard it is I get tracks from artists ; but some of them dont make it on air due to that fact- so i try to host them on the show. Artists have to understand that what im doin is a first of its kind & it will take time to break through (BUT) In Saudi, its real hard to get exposed if ur nt connected to the “comedy circle” or Utube companies ..but again, you need to fight & keep fighting — even if your against the current. Just do You. Hamdulilah,have interviewwd artists that never was on any ARAB FM – but cuz my show is not really supported by the “comedy”circle – i don’t get a lot of interactions from them – but i stick to my brothers & sisters who are with me.
10. Speaking of these “Youtube stars” & comedy circles, etc., what are your thoughts on artists/DJs that lie through their social media & buy fake Youtube views, Twitter followers, Facebook “Likes”, etc?
Big Hass: It’s just not real & U can tell really whose real & whose not. Again i aint sayin that the comedy scene is not 2 be respected, they are just supportin each other & for #HipHop to get to that stage -either we need to form our OWN circle or join them buying fake #’s don’t get you anywhere, eventually you will fall down. It’s how Genuine you are that gets YOU places. I feel sorry for these people that buy followers -for me it’s playin with the minds of listeners & thats not respectable.
MED: We have about 2 more questions and we’ll wrap this great groundbreaking interview up!
Big Hass: I salute you for the questions & for this creative idea & I am honoured to be the FIRST. cant wait to see the list!
11. Do you think it would be more effective & beneficial to the scene, if we all collectively supported a smaller group of the best acts & focused more on pushing them to the forefront of the scene locally/globally, so they could pave the way for the movement & the identity of Middle East hip-hop while allowing the other acts to come up after thru the doors they open?
Big Hass: Some Arab Hip Hop Artists get properly promoted outside MENA region all the time , by having shows/talks/events Workshops, etc.. @ArabianKnightz got asked to do a workshop in Denmark for 2 weeks (full package) – in #MENA region, they @ARABIANKNIGHTZ get asked to perform for FREE (because they are opening up to someone) as if local talents are amateurs. We need the #MENA region to START supporting its artists & give them a platform to showcase their talent & not “USE” them OR build our OWN platform (on a strong basis) & move as ONE UNITED UNIT & thats very hard but worth a try. My dream is to one day Organize an Arabic Hip Hop Festival , one that will alert the ppl of this movement.
12. Last question…a couple months ago you asked for financial support & sponsorship through an @Indiegogo type site to help you pay for a trip to the States so you could attend & cover a hip-hop festival…the response was horrible. Does this discourage you or even change the opinion of the artists/ppl you support, which is many a time at your own financial expense? Especially, when you have your own family & the time, money, energy you dedicate to this movement could just as easily be spent on them, rather than helping people who are only concerned w/ themselves & their selfish goals?
Big Hass: I address my support to those I believe deserve it. But it is a fact that once I don’t sense any reciprocity then my enthusiasm volumes down. I will never stop supporting what in my opinion is the truth that is elevation thru #HipHop. Regarding the campaign it was a spur of a moment thing and I found more support coming from the W than the E. #sadly I need 2 find a way 2 be more effective in reaching out 2 these artists & hopefully if they support truth they’ll support me.
MED: We’ve had quite a few questions asked during the interview by readers but I believe you’ve already addressed them. Final thoughts?
Big Hass: I am humbled by the fact that I am your 1st choice in this LIVE twitter interview. I believe we should form our own unit.
MED: thank you for this awesome interview! We are honored to have you as our 1st interviewee & we appreciate your time & knowledge!