Open mic Dubai

MC for local rap trio Lyrically Insane, tells Time Out about their appearance at the Open Mic

Interview, Music feature

What are your musical influences?
Most of the people that influenced us were from the late ’80s and early ’90s. My favourite rapper is Tupac but it depends on your style, the way you personally adapt to it.

Does your heritage play a part in your musical style?
Two of us are half-Arab and half-Tanzanian. We got into rap as the music we listen to is from East Africa, such as Bongo Flava. We moved from that to hip hop. I also listen to hip hop from Miami because that’s where I was born.

How long have you been making music together as a group?
We’ve making music together since December 2006. We performed at a show in Wonderland on Valentine’s Day but that didn’t really go well – being in Dubai, the crowd didn’t know what to expect and the event wasn’t really promoted enough.

How do you work as a group?
We write our own lyrics, but we all put stuff forward and help each other.

What will give you the edge over your competition in this week’s Open Mic contest?
When it comes to music it’s all from the heart – it’s about what you’ve got on the inside. We’re good with people and reading an audience, so we’ll adapt to the crowd and connect with them. But winning’s not everything – we’re looking to get more publicity, so this is a great opportunity.

How is the hip hop scene right now?
It’s gotten worse but it’s not like it will die; music’s never going to die. I’d say that MCing is going to improve in the future because people are starting to get tired of the commercial stuff and are getting back to being real again, which is good.

Is it hard to get publicity here?
Yes – usually groups that are already up there get everything and groups like us aren’t recognised, which isn’t fair. And usually we don’t get the opportunity to perform at clubs because you have to be over 21 and we’re 19, 17 and 16.

Will you go back to Miami if your career doesn’t take off in Dubai?
Yeah, definitely – Miami’s a place where you can impress a crowd of millions rather than a crowd of thousands. But I’ve spent most of my life in Dubai so I’d still represent it, putting the city on the map and showing what we’re all about. I’ll keep doing that until, you know, the day I’m gone. No matter what comes my way I’m still going to do it; I’m doing it for the money and the fame but I do it for the love even more. That’s what will keep me grounded.

Have you noticed any discrimination in Dubai or the industry?
The problem we have right now is the discrimination between the people that are up there and the people that are down here. And that’s something that really needs to go – why do people act like they’re worth more than the people that are under them? I personally feel that nobody should be underestimated for what they can and cannot do.

Lyrically Insane play Malecon, June 27.

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