No One Is Paying Attention to Dubai’s Mega-Rich Rappers
The United Arab Emirates isn’t a country you’d typically associate with hip-hop. It’s a place that is generally bereft of the cultural signifiers native to the dark, dank locales where rap was birthed—Illmatic, for instance, probably wouldn’t have been the same album if it was about the struggle of going $40 million over budget on your new artificial archipelago instead of the fight out of inner-city poverty.
But the young Emirati elite throwing cash at studio time and music videos to force their way into the rap game don’t care about that, and why should they? Genres don’t have to stay rooted. Dubstep was spawned in a south London borough known for its train stations and knife crime, and has become the party music of choice for frat boys with facial piercings the world over.
The problem is that those wads of cash aren’t conducive to your scene being taken particularly seriously. There aren’t many rappers in the UAE unleashing conscious backpack records aboutthe government’s oppression of its critics; far more who are content to jack Flo Rida’s artistic process and find new words to rhyme “club” with over a lame club-rap beat.