The hip hop scene in the UAE is burgeoning and we were glad to sit down with another proud representative of the city’s music culture - Deezy Don. The Emirati rapper from Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) spoke to us about releasing his debut album – Papers. We picked apart the moments in a journey that defined his music. The RAK native predicts big things are just around the corner.
Tell us how Deezy Don started off
“I was playing professional football, but we were B-boying too. We’d be all at my grandma’s place after training and we start dancing and dancing. One day a friend who went to the UK came back with a recording device and we got into making beats and recording our raps onto it.
I also love Tupac and in high-school I started off by stealing lines off his records, later I would rip bars from Lion’s Den and Smack DVD on Youtube - and that’s how I started.”
It’s refreshing to hear this honesty because a lot of people started out like that but won’t admit it. Tell us about when you took form with your own bars. Were you always a skilled lyricist?
'When I started writing my own bars I remember going in to do a song with The Recipe (hip-hop collective from the UAE), but they thought I was garbage, so I decided to go away and it gave me motivation. I thought maybe they’re right.
In 2015, I did a verse with Bullet beats called ‘I run this City’. Couple days later I learnt that they [The Recipe] wanted the verse. So we did ‘We run this City’."
Who are you working with at the moment?
“A couple of people, my producer Big Man 2018 – who is based in Slovakia. I record my stuff here and send it to him. He works with me on everything. We click and I don’t tell him what to do with my vocals. My manager is also my wife. I met her in 2016 when she approached to take me on as my manager, since then she has help me land shows around town.”
Tell us about your inspiration
"When I started getting into Travis Scott and I discovered Tory Lanez, that’s what changed me. I would say Tory Lanez definitely changed me. He opened my mind. He says You can’t put me [Tory] in a box, not in genres of rapping or singing. So now I took on the same open-minded approach. I was kept in a box. But look at the album, I’m an artist. I can do anything.”
On the album we hear different styles, but tell us more about the content – where does it come from?
“Most of the time it comes from people and things that happen around me. It’s all based on life experience.”
You’ve not restricted yourself to any style or genre, but is there any sound that defines Deezy Don?
“Yes I’m the party guy. If you give me a hype beat, I’ll kill that easy.”
For sure there’s a couple of club bangers on there, but there is the emotional stuff too – tell me about that.
“First year of marriage is hell. This isn’t your girlfriend no more, this is your wife now. When you’re working and in the studio, when you got a daughter and wife to take care of, you got a lot to say. I took to speaking my mind in the guise of speaking to the industry in ‘Thank You’. I talk about my friend who I thought I’m not going to see again when he got sentenced to ten years. There was just three of us growing up. One died and now the other got locked up."
Let’s chop through the album a bit. What tracks stand out most to you?
"I think We On and Shut It Down. There’s a couple others but each song has its own place."
Where you see yourself next. What’s the next step? Performing, promotion...?
“Actually I’m focussing on making more music. I would love to perform anywhere but I don’t have enough music. I went to Sole DXB last year and I said I’m going to be here next year!”
Growing with the UAE hip hope scene, Deezy has navigated his way to being an all-round artist who doesn’t identify himself as a pure rapper. The album Papers reflects his diversity and skillset and puts him in line with the hungriest artists-in-the-making. You can catch Deezy Don perform alongside Freek, BigSmooke and others at the XL Club this Summer. Keep an eye out for this upcoming talent.
Image Courtesy: Supplied
About the Writer
Faariss Khalil is a British musician who currently lives in Dubai. As a former turntablist from Bristol his experience of growing up in a thriving music scene has fuelled his passion to uncover new music in the UAE.