DUBAI: Saudi hip-hop promoter and radio host Hass Dennaoui (aka Big Hass) is known as one of the regional independent music scene’s most influential figures. Big Hass started the Kingdom’s first FM radio hip-hop show — “Laish Hip-Hop?” — in 2011, introducing Saudi listeners to what he calls “real” hip-hop. By which he means socially conscious, smart rap, as opposed to the commercial “bottles-and-girls” tracks that clutter up the charts.
Dennaoui relocated to Dubai from Saudi around 18 months ago “to give my autistic son a better life” and recently revived an events series that he launched in Jeddah in 2013, The Beat.
“Its main aim is to feature local, up-and-coming artists from the community and give them a platform to perform live,” he told Arab News.
Last weekend saw the first The Beat DXB take place. It featured performances from Lebanese singer-songwriter Jamil Jabbour, Sudanese R&B/soul singer Reem Ekay, and Serbian singer and pianist Aleksandra Krstic.
“The main reason I wanted to launch with these artists was simply because they don’t perform that often in Dubai,” Dennaoui explained. “Jamil Jabbour is very talented with a very strong voice, but he rarely gets the chance to do originals. Reem’s vibe is just incredible, but The Beat DXB was her first live performance in two years! And Aleks is one of my favorite singers in Dubai. We also got a special appearance by Double A the Preacherman who freestyled using lyrics we gave him on the spot, which proved to be very entertaining.”
Dennaoui described the night as “amazing,” saying: “What I personally enjoyed was the fact that the audience was there listening to each and every song: There was no talking, no drinking, no distraction, simply a connection made between the artist and the audience, and watching that was a true blessing.
“I received a lot of great feedback,” he continued. “I expect big things for The Beat DXB.”