Monday, 27 June 2011

Saudi Hip Hop

Hip Hop is alive and well in Saudi Arabia.  At least, according to an article I read in Time Mag it is.  Hip Hop might be underground in Saudi, but where there's a will there's a way for musicians to present their art to a listening audience.

The article made me curious.  So a cyber visit to You Tube, a button click away was in order and soon the sounds of Saudi artist Blak-R were soon emanating from the computer speakers.

I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard.  A scroll through other artists featured on the page resulted in a similar response - I liked what I was hearing. 

What was refreshing was the lack of American style foul mouth language that completely turns me off the majority of western rap.  Perhaps that is showing my age, or my lack of understanding of the roots of American Hip Hop.   Whatever the reason, hearing rappers expressing themselves regarding local issues using a broader range of vocabulary, mixed with Arabic, sits well with me.

The article made two things (well, more than two but I'll settle on these for the moment) painfully obvious.

First, I have not given Saudi's local music talent a second thought since I arrived.  Though I was aware the younger generations were struggling to be heard, that's as far as my knowledge went.

To be honest, I think I presumed, quite naively (or maybe ignorantly), that local music would largely consist of tribal drum beating, probably because the popular (and only) image of Saudi music publicized to the masses is the men's sword dance.  And the night we did enjoy local music with Saudi women, hand held drums were the instruments of choice.

Our gym plays a lot of Arabic music via Orbit (NZ's version of Sky).  Apart from the songs being in Arabic, which I can't understand, it all seems very similar in style, presentation and, as I mentioned to a fellow compound dweller who hails from Egypt, the only thing they seem to sing is variations on the word 'Habiibii'.

Listening to local Riyadh radio channels is not something I do on a regular basis.  My desire for music is usually met via the tunes on my iPhone or streaming New Zealand radio stations (usually The Edge, The Rock, ZM or Flava) over the net. The only local radio I hear in Riyadh is in the taxi, and that is usually jiggy Pakistani music.

Even if I did tune in to the local radio, somehow I doubt that Hip Hop music makes it to mainstream air waves in Riyadh.

I was also faced with the horrible fact that my last 18 months living in Saudi Arabia have been as a closeted expat - and here was me thinking I'm so progressive getting out and about. 

In Saudi it is easy to pretend that the gym routine and the round of coffee mornings that expat women have a tendency to sink into once they've given up fighting against the rules (and resigned to whining about them instead while in their compound closets, compound buses and Saudi versions of Western Malls) is real life.

It's not.
It's time to broaden my horizons some more. 

The article that spurred this blog entry is in Time Mag.
If you're interested in a blog where underground music rises up visit Re-volt Radio

And here is a taste of Saudi Hip Hop...

I hope you enjoyed this Saudi Hip Hop selection.  I did.

Ka Kite,


  1. Hi chick, just realised you were a follower of me blog so I came over to check you out!
    Hip hop in Saudi Arabia! NIce!

  2. Music and tunes have a noteworthy part in developing the way of life of a country. Nigeria has delivered numerous awesome specialists of their time, who had hugely added to music of country and mainland.


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