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ISSUE 08 • JUNE 2014

YOUR MONTHLY SOURCE OF REAL HIP-HOP CULTURE


re-volt magazine is a new platform under the same roof as re-volt blog, which initially started as a space where views on mainstream music can be openly discussed, where the music industry is put on the stand and criticized, and lastly, where underground, talented unrepresented artists are given a chance to stand out. Our main focus is to expose hip hop as a positive genre and detach it from the corrupted mainstream hip hop. Starting up an online magazine will benefit this message, as re-volt magazine will reach more readers worldwide and will enlighten people on the power of the word and the role of hip hop in the Arab region. Aside from the well-known elements of hip hop - which are MC, BBoy, Beatbox, Graffiti, DJ and Knowledge re-volt magazine also focuses a great deal on any other forms of expression/art that concretize the richness of our Arab culture. The list includes films, documentaries, initiatives, events, companies, charity organization, etc... A mic, a choreography, a vocal percussion, spraypaint, a vinyl record, a book or a film... We choose all the above. The power of the word to inform, to represent and to stay real! EDITOR HASSANE DENNAOUI ASSOCIATE EDITOR | GRAPHIC DESIGNER Hanane FATHALLAH CONTRIBUTORS If you’re interested to write for re-volt magazine, email us revoltmag1@gmail.com


CONTENTS REVOLT/REPORT Meeting Chuck D in Beirut! MUSLIM POWER 30 FEATURE Hamdan AL ABRI Kinda HIBRAWI LYRICALLY ILLZ NINO BLESS LMNZ Mazen AL SHAMRANI Michael BOU-NACKLIE SPOT.F.Y.I Laith AL ABBAD Mazen AL SHAMRANI Karim JABBARI LOCAL FLAVA’ RAPPER WMD Feras IBRAHIM a.k.a. TOOFLESS Q&A | THE NILE PROJECT ALBUM RELEASE JON TARIFA | FREE TO BE AKUA NARU | The Journey Aflame L-FRESH THE LION | ONE LMNZ | WORLDWIDE RAP CARTOONS CENSORSHIP by KHARTOON! Syria Elections by CARLOS LATUFF ON THE GO Q&A | HIP HOP BALADI Q&A | ARABIQUE

Cover Artwork The Gate (November 2013) Photo taken in Istiqlal Avenue • ISTANBUL by Hassane DENNAOUI


ON THE GO | Q&A HAMDAN AL ABRI

Q&A | Zanzibarian Soul sways Dubai

Hamdan AL ABRI


ON THE GO | Q&A HAMDAN AL ABRI

1. How did it all start for you? My father is a musician so I grew up with music around me. In high school, I decided to join the music club, did a few shows here and there and that’s how it all started.

7. Who is in your ear-drums at the moment? I’ve been buying a lot of records (LP’s) lately and I’ve been listening to a lot of Jazz and soul music, such as Ottis Redding, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane.

2. We salute your talent. What has been the highlight in your career so far? I recently had the privilege of sharing the stage with the one and only Herbie Hancock at the Abu Dhabi Festival. I performed ‘A Change is gonna come’ alongside Herbie Hancock and his band. It was such a surreal moment to be performing with him and definitely one of the major highlights of my career.

8. It seems to us - especially when it comes to hosting events - most of the companies dont get local artists to open up for the foreign artists. Is that something you have experienced? That’s how things were because I think organizers weren’t confident about having local artists support big international musicians. But I think hings are changing now, a lot of local acts are opening for big names. I opened for Sting and Sade with the band Bull Funk Zoo, and recently I was lucky enough to play for Quincy Jones and with Herbie Hancock.

3. What is it that makes you do what you do? I am just passionate, I love music, I love that music is such a universal language and you can reach so many people with it. A few people seem to like what i do as well so I want to keep evolving and progressing and performing 4. In your opinion, is Radio Play as important as it used to be four years ago? I don’t think it is as important honestly speaking; you have so many outlets now where you can get your music heard, to name a few youtube, Vimeo, Itunes, SoundCloud, BandCamp. We are living in a digital age and people are online more than they are listening to the radio in their cars. The majority of the air play nowadays is commercial music that has been paid for by the record companies 5.You are currently based in Dubai. How is the support for local/underground artists in the city? There is a nice community of musicians in Dubai and it’s steadily growing together with supporters and I think the scene as a whole is growing but it’s still not there yet. Artists need more support and more platforms similar to the vibe and scenes in London, LA, or New York. and I’m pretty confident we’ll reach that point in the future. 6. We know that you support some of the Arabic Hip-Hop artists. Give us a few names? Toofless, The Narcycist, Omar Offendum, Malikah, and Desert Heat.

9. What are you currently working on? And how can people reach you? Right now I formed a band called Abri & Funk Radius with some really established artists, namely The Afif Brothers and JayWud. we’ve been kind of honing our sound and cementing our band and as we speak we are in the process of working on new material. People can expect to hear new things this year from Abri & Funk Radius. People can reach me via Twitter @HamdanAbri via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HamdanABRI 10. Tell Re-Volt Magazine something not a lot of people know about you.. I love cats and peanut butter.

Interview by Hassane DENNAOUI a.k.a. Big Hass revoltmag1@gmail.com


s p o t f . y . i .

Artwork by Ghofran SHAKER


TOP 10 TUNES on my headphones Hamdan Al Abri | Falling

➔ RECOMMENDED VIDEO MC AMIN Mabrouk Ya Sisi

Akua Naru & Drea d’Nur | This Mo(u)rning Oddisee | Own Appeal The Reminders | The Way It Is ‫يف الجليد | مع الفرعي‬ Majeed | Soupitro Qusai & Anas Arabi | Dream Jeddah Fam | You Damian Marley | Affairs Of The Heart . Yasiin Bey x Mannie Fresh | “Let’s Go”


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CARTOONS

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Khartoon! | Censorship is not dead...

CARLOS LATUFF | Syrian Elections


FEATURE | KINDA HIBRAWI

[FOLLOW KINDA HIBRAWI] http://www.kindahibrawi.com/

Q&A

Modern Abstract Arabic Art

KINDA HIBRAWI 1.You grew up between Saudi, Syria , Lebanon & the US. In what way has this diversity help you in your art? I think when you are exposed to different cultures it certainly makes you a better artist as well as a better human being. 2. When did you realize you have a passion for calligraphy? While living in Saudi Arabia I noticed that much of the artwork in public buildings were of Arabic Calligraphy. My first modern Arabic calligraphy art piece was by Iraqi artist and calligrapher Hassan Massoudi. His work lined the hallways of the hospital in Dhahran ARAMCO, where I saw them in the waiting room for my annual doctor checkup. I then started taking lessons with a master calligrapher in Aleppo, Syria when my family and I went to our yearly summer trips there. 3. Do you think you will ever stop in Calligraffiti? My work is not really called calligraffiti – I just use the Arabic language in my art work. I think the poetry of the Arabic language both in form and meaning is beautiful. You can take just one letter and it create a design just from that and it will be beautiful. I don’t stick to a specific style of Calligraphy, in fact often times my designs deconstruct the words and uses the Arabic letter as a design. 4. We wish you nothing but the best. What has been the highlight of your career so far? I am grateful that there have been many amazing experiences and highlights in my career, from meeting a number of talented professionals to solo art shows. But the two that stand out for me are in 2008 being named an “Artistic Ambassador” by Arab News in Saudi Arabia for helping to bridge cultural misunderstanding between Arabs and Americans through my art work. And the second highlight is in 2012 being named a Rio+20 global thinker and influencer by the United Nations. I was formally invited by the UN, the only Arab-American among the panel, to submit my thoughts on sustainable development for the Rio+20 conference held in Brazil.

I had the honor of sharing the panel . The campaign called “the future we want” is a series of short essays by distinguished select global thinkers and influencers from around the world sharing their vision for the future they want .The panel included Kumi Naidoo Executive Director of Greenpeace and Elie Weisel Nobel Peace Laureate to name a few. It was a great honor. 5. Do you often come back to the Middle East and do workshops? Would you be interested in doing a workshop in Saudi Arabia? Yes, I try to come back as often as I can. I currently conduct calligraphy workshops in southern turkey to Syrian refugee children. Of course I would love to teach a workshop in Saudi Arabia, especially to young women. I think we all have untapped reserves of creativity in us and sometimes we just need that extra nudge to do it. 6. Any regrets? I’m glad to say I don’t have any major regrets, because even if at that moment you feel as if you have made a mistake, its really just a learning lesson. 7. Tell us about the Zeitouna Program? In June 2013 I am the Executive Director and co-founder of Zeitouna – a creative therapy and physical wellness program designed to inspire and heal the youngest victims of the Syrian conflict: the children. The program is a Karam Foundation project and was first implemented at the largest Internally Displaced Refugee Camp inside Syria, home to 30,000 refugees. My team of seven crossed the border everyday and taught creative workshops to 500 Syrian Refugee children in tents. In one year the program became so successful that now I recruit a team of over 30 volunteers from around the world and works with Syrian refugee schools in Turkey along the SyrianTurkish border.


FEATURE | KINDA HIBRAWI

“The Letters & the Birds” MIX MEDIA: Ink and acrylic on canvas • 48” x 48”


FEATURE | KINDA HIBRAWI

“Thankful” (ARABIC - Alhamdulillah) MIX MEDIA: Acrylic on canvas •SIZE: 14” x 44” (Four Panels)

8. In what ways do you see that Art is a cure of the soul? I think that often times we may have a difficult time expressing and communicating properly so art is a great solution to tap into that part of ourselves. It’s a release of emotions, sometimes they are good and sometimes bad. But at least its an outlet for your soul. 9. Is it difficult being an Arab Artist in the US? I think its difficult being an artist period! Haha. I mean anything in the creative field is a challenge and it doesn’t really matter where you are from. 10. If there is a microphone right now broadcasting to Syria. What would you say? I’m sorry. 11. What’s your favorite kind of music? I love everything from classic Bach to House, with the exception of country music. Not a fan of that genre. 12. Any fav Arab Hip-Hop Artists you would like to mention to our readers? Omar Offendum of course! He’s also a Syrian-American artist and humanitarian that I have known for years and is like family to me, proud to call him a brother. 13. What are you currently working on & how can people reach you? I am working on a series of twitter portraits that focus on the the massacres that have taken place over the last three years due to the Syrian conflict. Its one of my most personal collections and most difficult. The portraits are of the refugee children I met on my trips to the border. You can follow me on Twitter: it’s my favorite form of social media. I am also on Facebook and Instagram. You can also see more of my work on my website – www.KindaHibrawi.com

14. Tell Re-Volt Magazine something not a lot of people know about you. I am actually shy by nature… and have had to work on “coming out” of my shell over the years


REVOLT/REPORT | BIG HASS MEETS CHUCK D

meeting the legendary chuck d (public enemy) in beirut!


REVOLT/REPORT | BIG HASS MEETS CHUCK D

It was the early hours of the 14th May’14. I was checking my twitter feed and of all a sudden decided to search for “Chuck D” & to my surprise, I found a link that stated “CHUCK D in Beirut giving a talk about Hip-Hop in AUB on 15th May” I literally jumped off my seat and without thinking started looking for a ticket from Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) to Beirut (Lebanon). I did not have enough time and at around 3 A.M. on 15th May (exact day of the talk) I managed to book my flight and flew to Beirut to meet this legendary soul. I was very excited as one of the community leaders in Beirut (Jackson Allers) arranged a small gathering with Chuck D & some of the local Hip-Hop Artists & few journalists/ media guys. The second i walked into the cafe , I could glimpse Chuck & he recognized me and we embraced & i admit I felt emotional and respected in every single way. He is a soul that is true to all the things he says on his tracks and I respect that. We had a great discussion and talked about the importance of being collective, United & believing in your work. He spoke highly of Hip-Hop artists such as Jasiri X , Brother Ali & Immortal Technique. It was a nice chat up! We then had one of the best walks of my life, where we went from the café to the American University Of Beirut (Whee the talk was being held) and it took us around 15-20 min but we all didnt feel it as we were havin great one on one talks with this legend who was walking the streets of Beirut! The talk that Chuck D had in AUB was truly inspiring, full of history facts and to the point. I loved it when he shouted me out, I loved it when he referred to himself as an EARTHIAN - A Citizen of the world & how we are all ONE BODY. His emphasis on being collective was again mentioned “Stay The Course, Travel The Earth” Chuck D said We had a quick Q/A and at the end, the FULL packed lecture hall gave a huge applause to this man & his mind.


ALBUM RELEASE |JON TARIFA

FREE TO BE | JON TARIFA “FREE TO BE” is the first album of the skillful MC, rapper, musician, vocalist and poet -- better known as Jon Tarifa. The jazz influenced, easy on the ear melodies, mixed with funky instrumentals, take you on “FREE TO BE” along Jon’s journey.

Each track embodies Jon Tarifa’s own sound, that can best be described as a fresh, funky, jazzy groove. If you could hear a sunset on a after summer day, that is exactly what “FREE TO BE” sounds like. Camera: Gianno Silvanie Editing: Rens van Rijn

Lyrical story telling is exhibited throughout the entire record. Jon inspires you to stay positive, focus and believe in yourself. The warm sounds of Robin Brock “So Right”, Arman Kanun “Next To Me”, Mame Bella “We Can Make It” and Levie Silvanie “Free” complement Jon’s (seemingly) effortless flow.

[FOLLOW JON TARIFA] http://www.JonTarifa.com http://www.twitter.com/JonTarifa http://www.facebook.com/JonTarifa http://www.soundcloud.com/JonTarifa http://www.instagram.com/JonTarifa


GIVE US A CALL when you want to get creative FILM PHOTOGRAPHY DESIGN

info@theloftme.com


LOCAL FLAVA’ | WMD

Exclusive Q&A// Rapper WMD


LOCAL FLAVA’ | WMD

1. How did you meet Hip-Hop? The meeting with hiphop was arranged by the element of rap. I remember when I was about 6 years old, my elder brother came back home with a cassette with Afro American dudes wearing caps on the cover. At that age, I couldn’t even read latin letters. I just played the cassette that submerged me in a world full of energetic music and great flows. That was the N.W.A.: that marked the beginning of a love story with the hip-hop culture. Later, my brother and I started the quest for any cassette having an Afro American man on its cover. Sometimes it turned out to be worthless music, other times it was the legendary Eric B. and Rakim, Onyx and many other pillars. 2. Do you prefer rapping in Arabic or English? Well, today I have no bias. I mean when it comes to rap, it’s generally the instrumental that influences my choice of language. If I feel at ease rapping in English on a certain instrumental, I just do it. If I feel it would sound better in Standard Arabic, I go for it. Sometimes I just give a verse for each language on the same track. 3. What are your thoughts on the Arabic Hip-Hop as a movement? For me, Arabic Hip-Hop is still a baby but it’s growing really fast. What I like about it, is that it’s independent. Most of the great hiphop artists in the Arab world are not under the influence of any industry standards as in the west. Off course, parasites, opportunists and phonies existence is inevitable but as they say, “real recognizes real.” I mean great djs, rappers, bboys & graffiti artists are easily recognizable. For example, you can’t miss people like DJ Lethal Skillz or EL Seed. Further more Arabic Hiphop has its identity. I hear a lot of music inspired or sampled from Arabic instruments. We’re more about activism and love than about power, money and women... So yes, it’s growing bigger and more mature.

4. Who was your inspiration growing up? When It come to music, I grew up inspired by most of the American east side rap. Rakim, KRS One, Wu Tang, Jeru the Damaja, Onyx, Notorious B.I.G., Black Star, Pharoahe Monch and many more. Some of theses artists have inspiring flows, others are more about activism, others about lyrics and punchlines, etc... 5. What are you currently working on now? I’m working on my upcoming album entitled Pillars - a solo album in collaboration with a great local producer named Gal3y. Expect a lot of diversity and featuring. On the other hand, I’m working on some collabos with Dj Goadman, Big Seno, Edd Abbas and others. All of that coming soon Inshallah. 6. Tell Re-Volt Magazine something not a lot of people know about you. Well, well well. What people don’t know about me is that I was my country’s street fighter 4 champ in 2012. I’m a huge fighting games fan. I love martial arts and I practiced Taekwondo for about 2 years. I work as a copywriter in an advertising agency. and... I have a weakness for Asian women :D

[FOLLOW WMD] http://www.youtube.com/user/notjustentertainment/ https://soundcloud.com/wmd-tracks https://twitter.com/Mr_WMD https://www.facebook.com/mehdi.wmd https://vimeo.com/wmdrap/videos


LOCAL FLAVA’ | FERAS IBRAHIM A.K.A. TOOFLESS

but I kept writing. In 2010, I began releasing music again, working with different producers like Wriggly Scott and Kashmir (Dub Poets Collective) as well as artists from the middle east region and other regions as well. Everything that happened was aligned for me to gain life and music knowledge, I felt like I am finally musically mature to release a solo compilation that truly reflects me. So, In 2013 I got in touch with the talented SufYan - Sudanese producer, whom I still have never met in person - part of ‘New Slang Ent.’ based in Khartoum, and this is after I had worked with him on a different project. I felt like his music would be able to capture what I wanted to showcase so we worked on it and released ‘Neospective Glitch’ EP on March 10th 2014 via AnotherMusic, an online label owned by Wriggly Scott. 2. What does your nickname mean? My stage name is stemmed from the word toothless and I do have a missing tooth, I thought it would be only fair to embrace my imperfections, especially in an art form like rap where most of the time artists would like to paint a different picture or polish it rather than portray whats real. 3. How did you & Hip-Hop meet? Apart from tapes that we used to illegaly acquire and whatever came on the radio during the mid-90’s, there was this crew from Sharjah named the ‘Killa Beez’ - like the Wu Tang crew, my friend Talal who was the founder of that crew put me on the undergound hip hop scene of the world, he was kinda like my first hip hop mentor and ever since then hip hop has been a significant part of my life, 15 years strong!!

Q&A| Feras Ibrahim TOOFLESS 1. Who Is Feras Ibrahim “Toofless”? A Sudanese brother born and brought up in Shj-UAE, moved by music from a very young age. I come from a family of poets, writers, activists and literature enthusiasts so writing came naturally. By the age of 15, I was writing poetry (English) and at 17, after being introtuced to the culture of Hip Hop I started forming my poetry to rap verses, using instrumentals as fuel to my emotionally charged lyircs, this creative cycle satisfied me and synchronized well with my intorverted nature. Fast forward to 2006, I joined ‘Diligent Thought’ (DT)’, a forward-thinking and socially conscious hip-hop collective. DT gained alot of love and attention and were well renowned in the region, the collective fell out 2 years later. I was already approaching a phase where i needed to take action on certain aspects of my life, hence i stopped releasing music for 2 years

4. In the UAE, there is a good support for local talents. How would you rate it? & what in your opinion is the best thing that happened to the local artists community scene? To a certain extent, this support grew recently, not to sound as a cynic, but dring DT times there were only a few platforms that supported local artists. Mainly which were the likes of Dany Neville’s radio show - The Egde/Home grown segment. Never the less, this is exactly what we suspected, the scene needed to evolve and this evolution took time. Currently i would rate it at 5.5, theres so much more that can happen. I’m not really sure if theres anything essential that happened to the local artists community, but im liking the fact alot of independent platforms are taking initiatives to create alternative options as opposed to mainstream events, such as OHM events, DCC, White Cube, Flex, Infusion, Rooftop rhytms and more, also artists from different genres and sub genres are recognizing each other and interacting with one another. 5. Diligent Thought. Loved the vibe,the flow. Will the group come back? Peace bro, appreciate that! Ameer (Soul-phonic) the group’s producer was always the heart of DT, I’m currently in talks with him to try and bring it back, not necessarily as DT but work together again because he kinda stopped making music. i say let things take its natural course and what is meant will happen :)


[FOLLOW TOOFLESS] You can purchase my EP Neospective Glitch http://anothermusic.bandcamp.com/album/neospective-glitch. via Twitter https://twitter.com/aka_toofless via SoundCloud soundcloud.com/feras-ibrahim via Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2mWB2NX8t4

6. If you would describe Sudan in ONE word, what would it be? Sudan is an ‘oxymorone’ 7. What has been the highlight of your journey? My show in Beirut Lebanon, we held our EP’s release party in Radio Beirut as part of the Beirut & Beyond International Festival endorsed by the Norwegian Embassy. Much love to Wriggly Scott, Radio Beirut, RedBull team, BGC, Radio Liban and all who contributed to its making and success. I know artists travel all the time but for me this was my first and it was great to be able represent both Sudan and UAE, I had a beautiful experience, the music scene in Lebanon is amazing and the energy is contagious, the city is full of realness through its art. i travelled with all my people from UAE and we made it a trip of a lifetime. 8. Who is Feras listening to right now? Currently listening to flying lotus, with special emphasis on ‘Until the Quiet Comes’ by flying lotus, what an Album. Also, strange loops, Thundercat. Infact im in a zone, just bumping ‘brainfeeder’ artists. 9. Do you think that Radio Play is as important as before? No it’s not that important! but it also depends on the artist/ DJ/listener’s objective. The rise of independent media (such as Independent radio ,Youtube channels, podcasts..etc) gives the people options and they have control over the content of interest, and it is gradually gaining traction amongst alot but unfortunately still, if you want to be ‘globally’ heard and commercially accepted, you must adhere to their conditions and that might affect you and your content. 10. What does Hip-Hop mean to you? Hip Hop as a culture, for me is a creative expressive vehicle. However, rap for me is personal - as cliché as it may sound, writing followed by rapping means to face and then come in terms with one’s own self, that includes internal and external battles as well as struggles, its almost like a form of meditation, you block out the world and try to focus inwards on your emotions and thoughts or even tap into another space, time or dimension. I say it is personal because it has ran in parallel, marked and documented all the stages of my life with its high’s and low’s, this is how I release. it also self-fulfilled me, gave me a sense of purpose, where i can positively contribute to our collective evolution. 11. How has the feedback been on Neospective Glitch EP? Feedback has been amazing so far, im glad it has been recieved well, i did a few post-release shows here in Dubai. I hope the EP reaches further though, and i would love for a magazine/ radio/blog such as yours to review the album.

LOCAL FLAVA’ | FERAS IBRAHIM A.K.A. TOOFLESS

12. What are you currently working on? I have another EP project that im working on with the Dub Poets Collective coming up. We’re also discussing a possibility of going back to Beirut for a show by the end of this year, lets see how it goes. Im also cutting tracks for a new album, but I am going to take my time, my creative process revolves around experiences and moods so I feel like I need to go something new in order to project something real and with substance, also make sure to execute better than the one before it. 13. Who were your inspirations coming up? The whole 90’s era of real hip hop. from Nas to Cunning linguists, but my style kept evolving. As I explore other genres as well, so I can’t really pin point a few artists that inspired me. 14. Who would you love to work with now? Boikutt, Flying Lotus & Robert Glasper. 15. Best Hip-Hop producer ever is.. I don’t really think theres a ‘best’ producer out there, personally - 9th wonder’ production always moved me. 16. Tell Re-Volt something not a lot of people know about you. I offer ghost rap/writing services haha! I’m kidding... I’m half Turkish, not alot of people know that. And also, my day job is a technology analyst


FEATURE | LYRICALLY ILLZ

Exclusive Q&A// Lyrically Illz Tell us about your name “Lyrically Illz” No real story behind it. I was about 13 years old when I first got involved with rap music randomly calling myself “iLL Krazy” and battling kids in school as well as key style battles in Hip-Hop chat rooms. My parents had bought me a microphone and as I got more involved in recording (and matured a bit) I changed my name to “iLLz”. It took me a couple of years for my song writing to really evolve and by the time I was maybe 16 or 17, I developed a more complex lyrical style of writing. A few artists had iLLz in their stage names already, so I decided to just add the “Lyrically” in front of it and it’s stuck ever since. I probably won’t have this stage name forever, but it will be tatted on me because it will always be the biggest part of my growth and who I am. I am a song writer with unlimited lyrical potential so no matter what name I may end up with, I will always be Lyrically iLLz.

How did you meet Hip-Hop? It’s funny, up until maybe my last year in junior high school I was an alternative rock fan. I listened to a lot of Creed, Three Doors Down, Disturbed, Blink 182, Nirvana,... One day I was watching MTV music videos and Linkin Park had come on, their song “In The End” with this mixture of like Alternative/Metal/Hip-Hop and Mike Shinoda was just killing those verses and actually painting a picture with his words and I was like wait. I can get into this rap thing. I started researching more on rap music and came across more song writers rather than just freestyle rappers and I fell into Mos Def, Black Star, Wu Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, THE LIST GOES ON...What hit home for me was that they found a way to use their words to literally draw out pictures of their lives; Their struggles. I loved rock because the blend between the vocals and the instrumentals were beautiful but rap (For me) was able to tell stories so detailed, it just connected with me because I too, was going through similar issues and situations growing up and going to school in Jamaica Queens. This outlet taught me to come out of my shell and express myself. Hip-Hop gave me confidence to be who I am and say what was on my mind without being afraid of criticism and social acceptance.


FEATURE | LYRICALLY ILLZ

Tell us about your album “Down To Earth” released in Dec’13? Down to Earth is my first unsigned solo mixtape that I’m treating as an official demo. It wasn’t until maybe 2011 that I really got serious with pursuing a music career (even though I have been doing music since 2003). In that time, I had been performing at random open mics, collaborating with local artists for practice and trying to find my own sound. I had written maybe 50 songs before I chose the track list for Down To Earth and started putting the project together in 2012. The whole concept of “Down To Earth” is exactly what I talk about in the album. I wanted to take the listener away from the “Norm”. I wanted to take the listener off the high horse, the superficial throne that everyone seems to be invited to sit on today, to experience the over -exaggerated lifestyle of good fortune and constant attention - and just bring them back down to earth. A humble sound from a humble human being who literally comes from an average lifestyle. Down To Earth is a struggling artist who is plainly observing what he sees and expressing how he feels as he literally crawls his way into what he once saw as a dream but now sees as a nightmare A.K.A. the music industry.

Our first encounter with your music was “Spare Change” - Take us through that track/Video? Spare Change summarizes the entire concept of what I wanted my whole “Down To Earth” project to portray. Personally I feel like it doesn’t get more down to earth than this song right here. I’m pretty much telling you although I am an aspiring music artist, celebrity, public figure, etc., I am a human being where money and materialism won’t define me. You can look up to me, but look up to me as a role model rather than someone you should just follow or copy. Let me inspire you just by doing what I do best; Making music and making a difference. The video was shot in one whole day. David DiLillo and I practically came up with the clips on the spot as we were driving around the city. I wanted the look to again, be away from the norm, so I didn’t have a haircut, there was no special effects, I was dressed very average and boring and I really wanted the words to shine rather than the visuals. Basically we wanted it to look almost completely amateurish but at the same time real and authentic. It was a risk for lack of popularity that I was willing to take.


FEATURE | LYRICALLY ILLZ

Who inspires you? People inspire me. I’ve always been the type of person who was more inspired by the struggle than the outcome, and every single living human being has their own story and their own unique role in life. I’m the type of dude that is sitting on the train or driving through the city and wondering what kind of life random people live and how I may never know but I’m sure it’s just as interesting and important as mine. You can learn a lot from other people so in a sense we inspire each other. In your opinion, Is radio play as important as before? To me, radio play is still very important on a more personal level between the artist and his/her own level of achievements. Every artist wants to make that big of an impact, some just for that “Big break” and some for the messages their music will send. Radio has one of the biggest influences on listeners and our audience so it’s very important. I just wish song selection was taken a little more seriously rather than put on rotation based off popularity. It’s a great business tool for blossoming your career so I can’t knock it too hard. What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far? Last summer I was selected to participate at the San Diego Indie Fest 9 and perform alongside Talib Kweli and other popular acts such as YouTube sensation Kellee Maize and Best Coast. They literally paid me to fly out to California and share my music. It was an amazing experience as well as my first time in San Diego. I’ve always been a big fan of Talib Kweli so it was dope to see him do his thing up close and personal as well. What sort of support are you receiving from your community? Because I’m only just starting to branch out into a major career now I haven’t done enough locally to build buzz within my community. I have a lot of love and respect outside of the US and of course some on the west coast, but as far as NYC, I’m still very low key. I have an amazing group of friends and family as well as a strong music team so I’ll be on the scene real soon. I can’t wait for the next step. The community out there in Saudi is showing me crazy love though and one day soon I need to fly out there and express my gratitude. Thank you.

What are you currently working on? I am currently under management working on a professional music career and going major. Unfortunately a lot of it will be for professional ears only to get me into the industry now, so things may get a little quiet after I drop one more final unsigned mixtape called “Spring Seizin”. That should drop this summer 2014. I also plan to hit the stages more to promote “Down To Earth” for fun and because I just love the stage. Tell re-volt magazine something not a lot of people know about you. Outside of the world of “Lyrically iLLz” most people who don’t already know me, don’t even know that I rap or am even pursuing a professional music career. I’m just not an open book like that.

Interview by Hassane DENNAOUI a.k.a. Big Hass revoltmag1@gmail.com Twitter @Big_Hass @Revolt_Magazine


ALBUM RELEASE | WORLDWIDE RAP

LMNZ | WORLDWIDE RAP LMNZ had the vision to produce a Hip-Hop album that brings the world closer, a multilingual Hip-Hop album without a limit to musical influence. Musicians with different styles from diverse backgrounds fused together. The influences range from jazz, soul, blues and salsa to Arabic and Chinese music and the texts do not follow the clichÊ image of hip hop displayed in today’s media. The album tells of war, societal ills and problems, but also of love, funny daily situations and inspiration. 76 artists from all over the world, who sing and rap in 29 different languages to realize the vision of a worldwide album. [FOLLOW LMNZ] http://www.worldwide-rap.com/


MUSLIM POWER

30


2014

MUSLIMPOWER30 meet 30 muslims, from all walks of life, making moves to impact society and serve humanity


editor’s note

I have created this compilation of professional, creative, hardworking, and spiritual Muslims in an effort to spread love and positivity. I hope these features inspire everyone to be remarkable everyday. We should always reach for the impossible because the possiblities to help humanity are limitless. HASSAN “HAZALI” ABDUS-SALAAM


30 saddiq jefferies

CEO of Kreative Mindzink, is young and in charge. He has studied Quran in Senegal, West Africa under the provision of Shaykh Hassan Aliou Cisse. And now he owns one of the leading graphics printing companies based in Atlanta, Georgia. His professionalism and love for the arts speak for itself.


29 jamila madyun

is the lead visual stylist at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC. She is also the owner of Sewing Sessions and Designer Dreams based in Washington, DC. She is also the co-founder of Sura Grace, which promotes an elegant, modest approach to fashion.


28 esseljay

or known as Anas White, is a Baltimore lyricist that speaks on the struggles of the mind and soul. With over 60,000 Youtube plays, he has proven to reach the masses. He is currently producing tracks with some of the hottest up and coming rappers and singers today.


27 nancy abdul-shakur

is making a positive impact one youngster at a time. As a youth employment coordinator, she addresses social issues with inner-city kids of Oakland, California. She is also the wife to Amir Abdul-Shakur and loving mother of a beautiful two year-old boy.


26 samiha rahman

is a young educator ahead of her time. She graduated with honors from Columbia University in the City of New York, and is currently pursuing a PhD. She is the CEO of the popular pie company Faydah Pies, alongside her husband, Rasul Miller. She is a true example of thinking outside the box.


25 naimah saleem

is a trained dancer. She is a DC native, but resides in the heart of Harlem. She is a cast member of “Memphis The Musical” and is a part of the Garth Fagan Dance Company. She recently had a solo on Saturday Night Live alongside Pharrell Williams, dancing to his hit song “Happy.” Naimah is a clear example that hard work pays off.


Artwork by Laith AL ABBAD


s p o t f . y . i .


FEATURE | NINO BLESS

[FOLLOW NINO BLESS] Twitter.com/ninobless instagram.com/ninobless PhantomeMusic.net

Exclusive Q&A// Lyrical MC in the making NINO BLESS


FEATURE | NINO BLESS

Do you remember your first encounter with Hip-Hop? I actually don’t. I had to have been 3 or 4. My brother was a DJ and the music was always playing in my house as well as him practicing his scratches. What does Hip-Hop culture mean to you? It’s a form of self expression in speaking and doing all that you feel. We use more words than any other form of music can use so we have a lot of pull within our culture as artist. Hip Hop to me means education & information from every urban area across the world coming together as 1. What Inspires you? Constant growth. New information and always pushing to evolve with my ideas, lifestyle, & etc. I can watch a movie, a documentary, a tv show, read an article, listen to a song, etc. Anything can inspire me these days as long as its challenging my mind. Tell us about your collaboration with Arab MC’s Black Bannerz? I really like those guys. Rugged is the homie. We were close to actually doing an EP together this year but things didn’t work out the way I hoped. Crooked I called my phone one day and told me about these dudes from The Middle East collaborating with some known American acts like Chino XL, Immortal Technique, R.A. The Rugged Man and all of that. He asked me if I’d be interested in working with them and I didn’t see no reason why not to. I got a beat from Black Bannerz like a week later and the beat was crazy. I actually told them how much I liked it. The style of boom bap they do with the arab samples are real refreshing. So it was nothing. The verse I did with them is real old and I’m a much different artist now but its still a good representation of what those guys and myself can do. What are your thoughts on Hip-Hop now-a-days? I personally think this is the best time in our culture. There are no gatekeepers and there are no middle men holding back anyone. If you’re talented you can just outgrind everyone and put your talents out there on social media and all over the internet and literally anything can happen for you. There’s no structure or formula that people feel the need to follow unless they are chasing something specifically but realistically a dude can come out and rap about being a male cheer leader and there’s a lane for that. For me personally I see a lot of

people trying to bring back a sound or a vibe that was a around back in the days. I’m not all for that. I don’t think think that’s going to help our culture evolve. Rather than working on something similar to “illmatic” or “reasonable doubt” .. I’m trying to create a new sound that hasn’t been created while employing those influences within my rhyme structure and energy. Personally I know those throw back elements serve a purpose but I really don’t like that personally. Overall these days I love the culture. I think as a lyricist I feel there’s a lot missing but the energy, music innovation, and originality is at an all time high. In your words what would you describe as “real” hiphop? What constitutes something being real compared to not being? I don’t get into any of those discussions. There’s no such thing as real hip hop and fake hip hop. There’s either Hip Hop or something that isn’t. Whether its my type of Hip Hop or not is a different discussion. Hip Hop to me is freedom of expression within our realm so it doesn’t matter what someone is on .. if I can’t relate I’m sure there’s someone who can. If I were a newbie to the hip-hop scene, whom would you recommend I listen to? Depends on what you want. You want to hear some trippy stuff listen to Chance The Rapper. Want to hear some personal easy on the ears music bump Atmosphere, fast rap and high energy Tech N9ne, u want some humor bump Hopsin, want to hear about political struggle listen to Brother Ali. The list goes on and on. If you want to hear complex lyricist while expanding your consciousness then bump R,O.A.M 3 by Nino Bless. What are you currently working on? Four new projects A mixtape called Illuminati Reject; a couple of EP’s and #AudioTrip 2. I also got some TV & film placements I’ve been working on. Tell Re-Volt Magazine something not a lot of people know about you That if I wasn’t doing this as a career I’d still be rapping. I really don’t care to gain any fame or any of that shit off this music. If it happens its whatever but its not a goal.


LOCAL FLAVA’ | NILE PROJECT | Mina GIRGIS

[FOLLOW NILE PROJECT] facebook.com/nileproject twitter.com/nileproject soundcloud.com/nileproject

Exclusive Q&A//

Mina Girgis & Dina El Wedidi inspire, music has historically been used in very naive and often problematic ways within the development sphere. And one of the biggest questions for us was whether we would be able to get people to think differently through music - whether our audiences would look at the Nile or their Nile neighbors in a new way after this musical experience. And we had to try it to prove it. I can’t speak for everyone who listened to our music but it is clear that folks are responding positively.

1. What was the inspiration behind the Nile Project? Mina Girgis: Tahrir Square. I have worked on similar projects over the past 12 years - from the Silk Road Project to my masters on the Gypsies (in ethnomusicology). But I was looking to do something that is more relevant to the current issues we face in Egypt post-revolution. I had just returned to San Francisco from a hot summer in Tahrir Square. My Japanese friend Marie Abe invited me to an Ethiopian music concert where she was performing. And it hit me. Then I spent a year researching, writing, thinking... 2. How were you able to convince sponsors to do the project? Mina Girgis: The cultural domain is one of the biggest challenges for development practitioners. It is much easier to build roads and dig wells than to address the way people think and feel about certain issues. While appreciated for its potential capacity to transform and

3. In your opinion. Can music fix what politics cant? Mina Girgis: Neither music nor politics are meant to fix anything. But both can have positive or negative impacts. In our case, music does something politics can’t do - it inspires audiences to empathize with their river neighbors, to see their equal humanity, and to change the mode of conversation from the pervasive geopolitical argument centered around a water resource conflict to a more productive solution-focused dialogue. 4. Should any artist want to apply for the nile project & be part of the performance.Is that possible & if so how can they reach you? Mina Girgis: We put out an annual call for artists once a year. So any interested artist should subscribe to our email newsletter and like our facebook page / follow us on twitter to receive notifications for the upcoming call for artists.


LOCAL FLAVA’ | NILE PROJECT | Dina El Wedidi

1.You have such a blessing voice. When did you realize that you got that talent? Dina El Wedidi: I realized it 2008 when I was acting at the theater and I started concentrating and workin more on my talent in 2010. 2. I heard about you from Arabian Knightz (Egypt). Do you think you would ever collaborate using Hip-Hop? Dina El Wedidi:Yes why not I listened to their work and we might cooperate it could happen :) 3. Who were you inspirations? Dina El Wedidi: it’s different things and people but Cairo was my first inspiration my crazy and strong city , crowded and revolution inspired me as well. a lot of people some of them my friends and famous one like Oum kalthoum - bjork - Gilberto Gil was the best mentor ever .

[FOLLOW DINA EL WEDIDI] https://www.facebook.com/DinaElWedidi.Official http://www.youtube.com/user/dinaelwedidi1

4. What are your currently listening to? Dina El Wedidi: I’m listening to different type of music But this days I’m interested with Ethiopian music Mulatu estatek espacially after the Nile project opened a lot of my imagination musically. 5. Tell RE-VOLT something not many people know about you. Dina El Wedidi: :) I’m in Oslo now for mixing my first album wish me luck Interview by Hassane DENNAOUI a.k.a. Big Hass revoltmag1@gmail.com Twitter @Revolt_Magazine


ALBUM RELEASE | THE JOURNEY AFLAME

AKUA NARU | THE JOURNEY AFLAME

{ALBUM ARTWORK} Akua NARU ... the journey aflame [FOLLOW AKUA NARU] http://akuanaru.bandcamp.com/album/the-journey-aflame


ON THE GO | Q&A HIP HOP BALADI

Exclusive Q&A// HIP HOP BALADI | JOE SAFI [FOLLOW HIP HOP BALADI] https://www.facebook.com/HipHopBaladiPage


ON THE GO | Q&A HIP HOP BALADI We had a number of artists that are affiliated with Hip Hop Baladi record and shoot a video for a song called Bi Ikhtisar, which will also have a sequel released pretty soon. We also have collaborated with other groups on Facebook before like Lebanese Memes and organized an event with them in celebration of their anniversary. The event turned out to be a huge success and we are glad to have been part of that. Obviously, we don’t get any support from governments or record labels or whatnot. All we have been relying on is our own efforts and the tools that we got in our hands like social media, etc.

1-What is Hip-Hop Baladi? Hip Hop Baladi is a community of different hip hop artists, rappers, producers, djs, graffiti artists, activists of the Arab world, where they interact and discuss hip-hop and all types of topics through a Facebook group and share their general ideas through a facebook page in a process of educating and spreading hip hop knowledge in the Arab world. Hip Hop Baladi started as a group of people who shared a common interest, hip hop. The baladi part is our own twist on it being inspired by the now cliché but never old expression “think global, act local”. However, after our various conversations, debates, exchanges regarding hip hop, we have developed a sense of belonging to a community. And the key part about it is that it was as organic and smooth as it can get. Everyone looks out for each other, there is always constant support among each other, collaborations between members who would have never known each other if it wasn’t for the group, etc. 2- What is the kind of support or feedback you are getting? The feedback is in the growth of the artists who help each other to get better, and after 2-3 years they all got way better in each others eyes and in the eyes of those who follow their music, plus the number of people following the hiphop baladi bandwagon. Since Hiphop Baladi is a community and not a group of artists this is what feedback is about and thats the most important feedback. So far, we have been relying on our efforts, our common passion for hip hop and our feeling of belonging to this community to get things going.

3- Your thoughts on the current state of Arab Hi-Hop? Hip Hop in the Arabic world has been on the rise. Every country has been witnessing the rise of several talented artists. We can’t deny that social media has made it much easier to overcome the barrier of distance, record labels and whatnot for hip hop artists to connect with an audience. However, we feel that the arab scene could use some more variety in sounds, themes, approaches, etc. We should realize that there is more to hip hop than just socio-political aspects. As long as we express ourselves as a culture, it’s all good. Variety is key. Of course the genre in our culture is still pretty young so that should come with time hopefully. 4-What is your message to Arab Hip-Hop Artists? Be yourselves, don’t shy away from expressing yourselves even if it means exposing personal vulnerabilities and fears, find your own niche but don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone, collaborate with each other and help each other build this culture. Have some diversity in your approach to writing, themes, picking or making beats, etc. Also, keep producing lots of EPs and LPs as that would be the best and most thorough way to enrich our hip hop library in the Arab scene. Also, work on collaborating with artists outside your country throughout the Arab world. Not to mention that we have to realize that we are part of an alternative scene and we need to support each other by “any means necessary”. Finally, keep in mind that hiphop is an open-minded rebellious culture so avoid elitism, pigeonholing and sticking to convention and create your own rules and way of making hip hop music. So, keep doing your thing, don’t limit your music and keep working on getting better! Interview by Hassane DENNAOUI a.k.a. Big Hass revoltmag1@gmail.com Twitter @revolt_magazine


Sunday, June 1st 2014 LOUD Art together with NUQAT celebrated the opening of “Executing Culture Shock� exhibition show at Desert Designs Gallery in Khobar LOUD Art will be on until 7 June before it moves to Riyadh and Jeddah later this year (dates to be announced soon). Updates and announcements can be found on Instagram @loudart and @ddartgallery and @nti_co


ON THE GO | Q&A ARABIQUE

[FOLLOW ARABIQUE] via Instagram http://instagram.com/arabiquemusic via Twitter https://twitter.com/arabique via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ArabiqueMusic soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/arabique

Arabique 1. Tell us about Arabique? How did you find out you got the talent of R&B? I’m a Kuwaiti Rapper/Singer that is signed to the Bahraini record label known as “Outlaw Productions”. I started out as a rapper but I slowly experimented with making R&B hooks. Thankfully, the feedback was positive so I decided to sing and record R&B songs more often. 2. What made you pursue this talent? I realized that my rap songs weren’t getting the recognition that they deserved. This is because the market for rap music in the Middle East is extremely limited so I had to adapt to it by singing. Furthermore, as an artist I feel the need to move people. Singing R&B helps me achieve that because using melodies makes it easier for me to express my emotions. That way more people will relate to my music. 3. What is the kind of support you are getting from your ocmmunity? The support I’m getting isn’t great at the moment. It gets frustrating because I work really hard. Im trying to change that but in the end of the day I’ll always love making music so I’ll keep recording new songs regardless. 4. Do you think being played om the radio is as important as before? No, not really. Getting radio play is great because it convinces people that you’re becoming an established artist. However, nowadays its all about social media and most people measure success by the number of followers,likes,views and comments you get.

5. Tell us about your collaboration With DJ Outlaw? How has it been? & how did it start? My brother sent my first rap song to DJ Outlaw back in 2008. Thankfully, he was impressed and he decided to feature it on a mixtape collaboration series called “Middle East Invasion”. After a couple of years of hard work I improved my skills to that point that DJ Outlaw offered me a record deal and I didn’t think twice about signing it. 6. Who were your inspirations growing up? Craig David, Sisqo, Michael Jackson, Usher, and Tupac. 7. Who would you like to work with? As unrealistic as it sounds right now I would love to work with Frank Ocean. 8. What are you currently working on? I am currently recording R&B singles that will be released very soon. 9. Tell re-volt magazine something not a lot of people know about you. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin -Madison with a degree in Electrical Engineering. My ambition is to make Kuwait use renewable energy sources rather than depend on fossil fuels. God-willing I believe that I can achieve success with my music career as well as my engineering career if I keep up this hard work and dedication. I see no reason why I can’t reach honorable achievement in every field of human endeavor.


FEATURE | GRAFFITI ARTIST \\ Mazen AL SHAMRANI

&

Mazen AL SHAMRANI

“Spraycans & Masterpieces”

[FOLLOW MAZEN AL SHAMRANI] https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mazen-Al-Shamrani/110928365652901 http://www.youtube.com/user/mazen1134 http://instagram.com/mazen_alshamrani


YOUR MONTHLY SOURCE OF REAL HIP-HOP CULTURE A mic, a choreography, a vocal percussion, spraypaint, a vinyl record, a book or a film... We choose all the above. The power of the word to inform, to represent and to stay real! If you’re interested to write for re-volt magazine

email us revoltmag1@gmail.com


ALBUM RELEASE | ONE

L-FRESH THE LION | ONE “On this album, people can expect lyrics, heart, soul, passion, knowledge and hunger. They can expect to be moved and they expect to move. “One” is for those people who enjoy good music; for those who yearn for music that will make them feel.” [FOLLOW L-FRESH THE LION] http://l-fresh.com/


Artwork by Karim JABBARI


s p o t f . y . i .


FEATURE | Q&A LMNZ

Photo by Danny Schreiber

q&a _ worldwide rap :: lmnz ::


FEATURE | Q&A LMNZ

1. How did you & Hiphop meet? I met her on the corner, her face been on TV: it was only right that i approached and said peace she sounded like no other thing i ever heard she was on her way coming up and that’s word... 2.Your thoughts on Hiphop nowadays? There have never been as many activists as today which leads to a great variety of styles in all elements. Concerning Rap I think it’s a pity that positive / uplifting, political or socio-critical Rap has it way harder than club music. There’s just certain formats that get airplay which portrays Hiphop and her original values in an incorrect way. I’m not talking about evolution of sound. But if I hustle my CDs on the street and ask somebody if they like Hiphop I just get the weirdest facial expressions as an answer. Her reputation is ruined by the way she is displayed in the media. That’s where most of the people get their information from. A lot of people miss out on the great content and positivity that can be found in a lot of “underground” Rap. 3. What has been the highlight of your journey? For me the highlight is meeting so many likeminded, positive souls from all over the world. I am unbelievably thankful for that. You reap what you sow. 4. Which do you prefer more & why? MCing or Producing? I like both artforms. Sometimes I love being by myself in the studio working on a beat and sometimes I need to get out and rock a show being surrounded by a lot of people. With lyrics I can be very precise while by making instrumentals I can just set a mood where everybody can paint their own picture. I wouldn’t wanna miss being able to do both. Right now I am more into writing. 5.You have done work in Africa. Tell us about that experience? Phew, I do not know where to start. I’ve been to Senegal, Gambia, Tanzania and Kenya. So there’s still a lot to see. I was lucky that Sister Fa introduced me to some of the best artists in Senegal, took me on tours for Human Rights and against Female Genital Cutting plus gave me a manager who brought me on TV and Radio there. In one day I could experience three totally different worlds. By myself I was looked at as the white “rich” foreigner

mostly, with Senegalese friends I was treated similar to them and on the road with big artists, on stage or TV I was treated like a big star. I had a long beard back then though, which they called “sikkim”...Usually the wise elders wear that in Senegal so I had a lot of people approaching me to take photos with them because of that. On a market in Tanzania I was reminded how music can tear down walls and build bridges and make ways for real communication after taking you out of your routine. And in Kenya for example I was lucky to work with some of the nicest poets and rappers from there and get a little insight on places like Kibera and Dandora. Places which maybe I could never go just by myself. 6. Are you still getting feedback from WorldWide Rap? (one of my fav things in Hiphop) Yeah. Since I put it out independently still a lot of people do not know about it and get excited when they hear about it the first time. So the more promo I make the more feedback I get. 7. What does Hip-Hop mean to you? Hitler Is Playing Hate-ris On Playstation (Dropping Bars) 8. What are you currently working on? I am doing shows with Blake Worrell (known from PuppetMastaz) - mostly in France and Germany, working on my first TEDx-Talk which will take place in Ghent - Belgium. Also I started working on an album with Producer IAMNOBODI. I want to experiment with new music genres and styles basically and keep elevating. Yesterday I worked on my fitness in the gym with a friend and since I overdid... today I was just able to lay down in the sun at a lake and work on my tan haha I am usually a big workaholic though ;) 9. Tell Re-Volt Magazine something not a lot of people know about you I am an open book. I do not know if there is something that people will not know if they know me ;) I guess most people reading this interview will not know about me at all so I guess I already gave them a lot of input hehe Feel free to check my albums “Worldwide Rap” and “Anders als die Besseren” on www.worldwide-rap.com


s p o t f . y . i .

Mazen Al Shamrani (Graffiti Artist) The Beat \\ The Heart Jeddah | KSA


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW (ISSUE 09 | JULY 2014)

“ROSASET ALAM”


FEATURE | MICHAEL BOU-NACKLIE

Q&A// An eye for statment art Michael BOU NACKLIE


FEATURE | MICHAEL BOU-NACKLIE

1. When did you realize you have a passion for photography? The idea of having a passion for photography is a real cliché. I’m passionate about a lot of things but photography isn’t one of them. Photography has always been a way of life, rather than something I tinker in. I’ve wanted to be a journalist ever since I was 8-years-old. Clark Kent had some part to play in that but it was mostly Peter Parker ‘chasing’ after Spiderman to get that good picture. The amount of work that goes into creating a good image is more than simply taking a shot and walking off. There’s far more that goes into it both psychologically and creatively which most amateur shooters just don’t get. I wish it was a passion, then it would be easier to just like all my work. Often, I dislike most of my work and work hard to improve on mistakes I made. Photography isn’t just a Facebook Like, it’s about telling a story, communicating something beyond the image to the reader. What most people don’t understand when they first get into this, is that 90 percent of photography is not taking the photo. Its about being patient and waiting for moments. Any idiot can take a picture of stuff. But photographing a moment takes real practice. More and more my work has shifted to video because of that chase for the story. It gives you more of a platform and it removes most of the bias and makes it more objective. 2. What do you think makes the difference between short-lived success and longevity as a photographer — especially with the advent of social media? a. Do you mean as a business, or people who just keep shooting. “I think it was Robert Doisenau who said “if I knew how to take a good picture I would do it every time.” Being a photographer doesn’t necessarily mean making a living out of it. Look at Vivien Maier, easily one of the most prominent photographers of recent memory and she was a nanny who photographed for herself. A paycheck for photography is always fun, yes, but I never thought of that as being a qualifier. You’re a photographer if you want to capture something, beyond a smiling face. No im not saying photographing is about human suffering. If you wait and observe human behavior and try and capture a moment by being aware enough to live inside that moment while having the wherewithal to understand what’s happening and capture it.

3. Help! I feel awkward taking photos of people in the streets–what do I do? What about taking photos isn’t awkward? The only difference between you and a spy drone is that you’re human. So don’t try and take photos from a distance. Robert Capa said “if youre photos aren’t good, then you’re close enough.” It’s entirely true. Go up to people and tell them you want to take their picture, make a conversation about it. Once people realize you aren’t being a dick they’ll usually let you take their photo. If you’re going for the more photojournalism look I would still approach them after you’ve taken one or two photos, it’s their life at the end of the day no reason why they don’t deserve an explanation. Then always either send them copy of the image or make them a print. 4. Do you have a favorite album/song you like listening to while working? a. I won’t even lie, I usually listen to Symphony of Science by Melodysheep. Look it up on Youtube it’s an awesome collection of science lectures including Bill Nye, Stephen Hawking, and my favorite physicist Neil Degrasse Tyson talking about life, physics, the universe – what have you. Because what could be more appropriate while photographing people than listening to astrophysicists singing about how awesome we are as a species. Yeah it’s nerdy, but I also listen to Bastille, Kelis’s new album Food which is a great Jazz/blues collection, and if all else fails Colin Hay is my go to track. 5. What do you want your viewers to take away from your work? a. If I tell them what to think, doesn’t that go against the point of it all? I mean I hope they will learn something because a lot of my work revolves around culture and how things are changing. 6. What were the difficulties you encountered first starting street photography? a. I never was nor have I ever defined myself as a street shooter. Photojournalism and street photography are very similar yes, but while street shooting is an examination of what occurs in the day to day, photojournalism is a more in-depth look at things.


FEATURE | MICHAEL BOU-NACKLIE

7. Who are some of your favorite classic photographers, and how did they influence you? The classics are great. David Alan Harvey is one of my early inspirations and I was lucky enough to shoot with him on several occasions, including a project in Mexico a few years ago. Get in closer, both relating to physical proximity and social proximity. Knowing your subject both in research and in person are the tools which make the difference between a good photographer and a great one. Ernesto Bazan is another great. He’s not among the pantheon of famous photographers but his work is truly incredible, it feels like paintings. If you can check out his book Bazan Cuba. It’s one of my favorite books and will redefine what you know about what is possible with photography. Karen Kamauski is a 30 year veteran of National Geographic and has photographed women’s healthcare issues for the better part of two decades. A few years ago I studied alongside her at Ohio University where she was a Knight Fellow and seeing her work was really something incredible. Amy Toensing is also a great photographer. She can really can get into a story and has the knack to shoot it from inside out, as if shes been part of this culture or story for her entire life. Her Australia drought image is an iconic as they can get in my mind. 8.Your All Time fav picture of all time? a. That’s a tough choice. Harvey has a great collection of horses in Spain just before they’re rounded up to be trained. The images themselves are powerful and dazzling portraits of horses in their own element completely separate from a world filled with people. Brian Smith is my favorite photographer, and also a good friend, who specializes in portrait work but has a Pulitzer in Sports photography. His book about portraiture is a great look into what the celebrity portrait industry really is about. Art & Soul is an example of someone who knows how to meet and get the most out of celebrities within a few minutes, but his burlesque work is an extraordinary ethnographic look at the world of burlesque dancing.

9. What are you currently working on? & How can people view your work? a. I’m getting ready to launch my #asirsandinanhourglass project which is a look at the vanishing tribes in the Asir region, which is on the border with Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Normally I’d direct people to my website www.bou-nacklie.com but I’m in the process of rebuilding it. Instead people can check out my blog www.bunklyvision.blogspot.com or https://vimeo.com/mikebou for video work. 10. Whose your fav hip hop artist (if any) & why? Narcycist is one of my favorites, Kelis like I said earlier, MC Solaar, Childish Gambino. I can appreciate some great lyrics when I hear them, the trouble is when I’m editing – video mostly – I need music that has few lyrics so that I don’t get distracted from what’s going on so I stick mostly to soundtracks or classical music. When Im not working one of my favorite ‘rappers’ is Epic Rap Battles of History on Youtube. I swear I’m cool. 11. Tell re-volt magazine something not a lot of people know about you. Hmmmm put me on the spot why don’t you. I’m actually fairly shy and in my personal life I dislike approaching new people, but when I have the camera in my hand I hardly have any problem.

Interview by Hassane DENNAOUI a.k.a. BIG HASS revoltmag1@gmail.com


FEATURE | MICHAEL BOU-NACKLIE


RE-VOLT MAGAZINE ISSUE 08 - JUNE 2014  

A monthly source of real Hip-Hop & Arab Culture | JUNE 2014 Issue

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