DUBAI: Saudi hip-hop promoter, producer and radio host Hassane Dennaoui — better known as Big Hass — released his latest cypher last month, this time focusing on rappers in his homeland.
“Because of my following in Arabic hip-hop, I wanted to highlight my country,” Dennaoui tells Arab News. “I’ve done a lot of cyphers in the Levant and some parts of the Gulf, but I hadn’t worked on a Saudi cypher before. It’s the least I could do for Saudi.
“Saudi rap initially got off on the wrong foot, with a lot of diss/beef culture,” he continues. “It’s gotten really big — it’s the voice of the streets in Saudi Arabia. My main goal with ‘Saudi Cypher’ is to showcase rappers in Saudi who are willing to work together to represent their scene.”
The track features six Saudi MCs rapping over a beat produced by Dattune (who also raps on it). “I chose him particularly because I wanted the beat to have that old-school, ‘boom-bap’ kind of vibe,” says Dennaoui. “Arabic rap — and music generally — is going more towards the new-school, trap-y music, but I wanted to give space to the rappers to express themselves lyrically, and I felt the best way to do that was with that ‘boom-bap’ sound. And Dattune, in my opinion, is underrated, so I wanted to give him a shot.”
While lyrically, Dennaoui explains, “cyphers are mainly about flexing and showcasing your skills as a rapper,” the underlying message is one of unity — showing that different styles and flows can work together.
“We have six rappers,” says Dennaoui. “One of them, Big A, has been out of the scene for the past few years, so this verse is his comeback. Then you have Blvxb and Al9ine, rappers who are representing Saudi with that new sound. You’ve got Al Young, who’s one of the most prominent rappers in Saudi — he’s been doing it a long time — and Khalz, who proved that he's a name to be reckoned with, even if maybe he doesn’t get mentioned a lot. And Dattune proved you can be a producer and a rapper.
“So we’ve got six amazing rappers doing their own thing, but it highlights that a group of rappers can get together to do something for Saudi,” he continues. “We should celebrate those rappers that wanted to work together. Hopefully this will (inspire) others.”