Tuesday October 3rd, 2023
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RAPDXB's VA Album Puts UAE Rappers on the Map

Curated by RAPDXB founder Christopher Esho Kelaita, the compilation album spotlights several UAE-based hip-hop artists.

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“What makes the mind generate lyrical rivers of an unspoken truth?” This is how the RAPDXB VA compilation album opens up, with a narrative intro from Big Hass, an Arab hip-hop pioneer who has been producing cyphers and compilations with regional rappers. For RapDXB, however, the compilation was curated by Christopher Esho Kelaita with the aim of spotlighting UAE-baed hip-hop artists.

Using mixed languages, Arabic and English, the follow-up track, ‘IDK’ kicks off with a moody melodic line, followed by a quickly deployed bass drop and beat that gives the rappers an open canvas for their rhymes. The call to action effect plays out between Mo Ed, a Sudanese rapper and UAE’s Gmakkonen, whose exchange adds a colourful aspect to the hook, and depth to the track’s basic beat.

In ‘Touchdown DXB’, Dyler, El Bebo and Mo Ed join forces to, quite literally, score a touchdown in one of the album’s best tracks. Driven by a bouncing Afro-styled beat, gentle mallets, and playful melodic line, the rappers combine their respective styles pulling from Saudi, Sudanese, and Egyptian hip-hop.

By the time we get to ‘Maktoob Aleena’, the album starts to fall into a groove, with a more atmospheric production giving space for Yanis, an Algerian rapper, to drop his melodic verses that deviate slightly from traditional rap syncopation.

Featured in two tracks on the album, El Brown’s ‘120 Down the SZR’, changes course with an all English versus delivered through a heavy British accent, impeccable flow and an eerie instrumental production, giving it a drill feel.

In ‘Mozitora’, by the Emirati/Yemeni rapper of the same name, we enter a high-energy production with perhaps one of the best basslines on the album. One of the more youthful songs on the album, Mozitora’s flow has a long way to go, but he has a keen ability to change tempos in his rhyme, keeping the track dynamic.

‘Farafer’ takes a different sonic direction than many of the other tracks, with a long synth-driven intro, and instrumental maximalism as Syrian rapper, UglyMoss jumps on the beat. According to the album’s liner notes, the track was first played live at the ‘Break the Block’ concert series, where the artist described his styles as “melodic rage.”

The album culminates and closes with another firey beat laid down for El Brown, who is joined by Imran Lukey from Iran. With a “Pop Smoke” feel, the track borders on drill and El Brown’s bellowing vocals, letting the album close on a higher note than some of the previous tracks.

Listen to RAPDXB here: