globalization effect or reason for the creation of Hip-Hop Culture in the Western province in Saudi (Jeddah)?
Saudi Arabia is a country of variety and as of recently, hip-hop. The hip-hop culture of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s western province, is a culture that signifies not only a new trend of music and interests never seen before in the area, but also an embrace of modern symbols, meaning, and language that could have a connection to the large forces of globalization from the like American hip-hop culture and street life. Semiotics, put simply, is the study of signs. These signs may include photographs, paintings, drawings, words, sounds, and body language. The analysis of the signs within hip-hop and hip-hop culture then leads to an understanding of the various meanings behind it.
This paper will focus on three rappers from Jeddah and compare them to U.S. rappers to find difference and common themes. Characteristics of hip-hop culture like rap style, clothing, break dancing, turntablism, Djing, and language will also be examined. Indexing of the cross-cultural nature of the chosen Jeddah rappers will allow the reader to make connections and relations regarding them. Much like semiotic analysis, discourse analysis will also help with further analysis on the language street fashion, street entrepreneurship, graffiti art, among other things to better understanding on hip-hop culture. The rappers discussed are Slow Moe, Qusai, Ayzee.
“Saudi Entertainers” an article featured in the magazine, Destination Jeddah, ran an article on Ayzee Hawasi. The article shares Ayzee’s focus as an artist and his need to express himself vs. simply living the life of successful rappers and musicians. For him, music, like with other artists like Slow Moe is meant to show his perspective on the world, his environment, and to show respect and love for his country. Even in his music it is not meant to annoy or rebel. It is purely meant to highlight his thoughts and beliefs as well as his voice as a youth in Saudi Arabia.
To begin, Ayzee Hamza Hasawi is a born and raised Saudi Arabian from Jeddah. He is what some consider the barometer of hip-hop music for Saudi Arabia. Although he is a singer, a lot of what he represents matches with the ideals in Saudi Arabia of hip-hop culture. He appears similar to the rappers of the United States in the way he dresses and presents himself albeit not as sexualized nor verbally vulgar as the former. Ayzee became well-known in Saudi Arabia thanks to the collaborations he’s had with the likes of Omar Basaad, his crew, J Fam, and Qusai. His style represents things that matter most to him as he integrates style, music, and culture into one citing his mother was one of his biggest supporters.
His first EP is titled: “First Words” and with this EP he planned to show the world who he is as a rapper and what he wants to achieve for Saudi Arabia in terms of hip-hop. His music choices like: “You Don’t have to go Home” evokes a sense of R with the allure and fashion sense of hip-hop. In the video he has on the backwards facing cap, the white t-shirt and is standing in a nonchalant manner amidst a black backdrop however there is absent a number of things one would typically see in a western hip-hop or R video. There are no “hoes” or women in scantily clad outfits gyrating provocatively in front or near him. There is no alcohol or drug use as Sharia’s law prohibit consumption of these things in Muslim culture.
However, the attitude and demeanor of this young hip-hop star still evokes what hip-hop culture embodies, confidence, strength, and swagger. Some American rappers like Mos Def have made a difference with their work, rapping with songs that serve a purpose other than to entertain and entice. (Alim, 34) Much like Mos Def, Ayzee wishes to put his thoughts and objectives within his music to make a difference and not just reach status and prestige unlike so many American rappers do today. Ayzee also states in several interviews that he has yet to find his niche. He does not want to be labeled solely a singer or rapper.
An important aspect of Ayzee that makes him part of hip-hop culture is his stint in a dance crew. The dance crew is what sparked his interest in music and therefore his motivation to reach out to the world. It started with simple recordings that piqued the interest of his friends and acquaintances. Much like the mixtapes of American rap artists, Ayzee recorded and compiled his own music early on.
His first hit, “Theme of Life,” yielded him critical and global fame through placement of his song and name amongst iTunes universal artists. Omar Basaad, the youngest electronic dance music producer in Saudi Arabia, produced the track. Similar to some songs by Chris Brown, he uses eclectic beats and simple melodies with soulful and easy-going English verses. He sings but does not rap however his style of dress, collaborations with rappers like Qusai, lend to his hip-hop culture credentials.
Qusai Kheder is regarded as the first hip-hop artist to emerge in Saudi Arabia. His songs are clean cut with no foul language or foul images. He dresses in the way professional, modern rappers do in America, with ties, sweaters, and sunglasses. In videos he shows the traditional aspects of Saudi culture but mixes with it traditional hip-hop flow and beat. Qusai’s “The Job” is one such video where modern hip-hop mixes with traditional Saudi culture.
The music in the job sounds very similar to common Saudi music with the instrumental sounds in the background. There are no women seen in the video and the men at work wear head covers in order to show respect for Allah. When the men enjoy themselves they use lasers in a dance club setting and show the beautiful landscape of Saudi Arabia. The scene with everyone on a boat and men wearing traditional garb does a great job of showing what exists within Saudi Arabia and how it translates into hip-hop from their perspective.
Unlike American hip-hop and rap artists where women are extensively featured in music videos, promoting strong sexual content, this video seems more family friendly, kid friendly than its American counterparts. The setting seems relaxed, even times comical. Towards the end the men are in a line clapping and it seems like the main point that comes across from the music video is work, friendship, connection, and family. To a Saudi Arabian, these are treasured and important aspects of life that should be revered and upheld.
Hip Hop has a long history of community. The people within hip hop show their respect for one another and the culture by creating music and events that support unity. However negative the press or the media has made or turned hip hop, it still remains as a great way to express one’s self and promote unity. The lyrics in some hip hop songs evoke strong emotions and that can be said of Qusai. Although the subject matter in his videos appear very tame in relation to American standards of hip-hop with absence of street fashion and hip-hop dance moves such as breaking and mc’ing, it still serves it purpose to showcase Saudi Arabia and the unity of its people.
Saudi Arabia has, for quite some time been hesitant to adopt standards. They are either hesitant or afraid of the consequences seeing as the United States is in turmoil as of late. However, more and more Saudi Arabians are witnessing the positive effects of hip hop in community and in culture as it gives voice to the disenfranchised and the excluded. It is an avenue for expression whether fashion wise or lyrically, hip hop is a great means of expression.
The last rapper to be examined is Slow Moe who appears to be what many hip hop artists in America are. His rhymes are rougher and deliver more like the standard American rappers and his music videos are grittier representing Saudi street life vs. Qusai who represents traditional Saudi views. He shows the world how a westernized Saudi rapper looks, yet still holding on to the integrity of his people and culture. Slow Moe shows city life in Jeddah along with the street fashions of his peers in music videos highlighting the youth and street culture of Saudi Arabia.
His music videos look like American hip hop videos and at times it seems as though they were filming in America vs. Saudi Arabia. He is able to not only invoke the modern Saudi Arabian, but also the American hip hop mentality. He is a true hybrid of Western and Saudi hip hop. The music from his songs are fast, original, and have hook and chorus very similar to hit American hip hop songs like “Black and Yellow.” He uses nice cars, friends, and implements Saudi identity with his lyrics.
Like the other…