Klash: New direction, same passion

Klash: New direction, same passion
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Klash: New direction, same passion
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Updated 24 December 2014

Klash: New direction, same passion

Klash: New direction, same passion

Mohammad Al-Ghamdi, also known as Klash, is one of Saudi Arabia’s first rappers to invade the scene. With his straight-forward lyrics and refurbished style, he is willing to make a huge comeback into the rap scene in the Kingdom and eventually the Arab world. Klash had his share of ups and downs in the past, but it seems that he’s more focused now on spreading the true message of hip-hop.
Arab News sat down with Al-Ghamdi and had this exclusive in-depth interview. We would like to thank Mohammad Samman from Jeddah Legends for arranging the interview.

What inspired you to become a rapper?
American rapper Tupac did! He inspired me by standing up to his principles and always speaking the truth, no matter how hard it was. My older brother Sultan used to get me his songs such as “All Eyes on me” on cassette and videotapes from Sacramento California, and through it I decided to take my first step in the hip-hop scene and I started to rap without having any background in the field. I decided to release the first thing I recorded using forum web pages and Bluetooth. Also, I used hip-hop because I wanted to share my thoughts on growing up in a middle class hood and seeing the youth listening to love, cheesy songs all over the place with nothing to touch the way they live. That inspired me to start!

You are one of the very first rappers in Saudi Arabia. In what ways have you evolved?
You are talking about a decade of my life! When I got introduced to rap I was in high school and the thing that attracted me to it was that rap had strong meaningful words that could explain who someone was, explain his culture and the way he lives from his own point of view and not the other way around. I took rap culture as it was in the US including the beef that was happening between the East and West Coast, I took the bad cursing words as well ... at that time, I embraced the full culture — good and bad. In 2010, I got a phone call from a friend telling me to check MBC Action website and I found an article based on a study done by Al-Arabiya stating that I am the most influential personality among Saudi youth as my tracks were being uploaded by different users on YouTube and the total views reached over 30 million. I didn’t have my own YouTube channel, it was all managed by my fans, and back then, Saudi Arabia didn’t get this many views on music content. At that point I realized that I’m responsible for delivering a real message to be a good influence on the youth.

You are now working with Jeddah Legends, a local production house and a record label. What are the things you have established together so far and what are your future plans?
In a period of one year we have released “Fi Rasi Kalam featuring Oday” without a video. We also have released two music videos, “E3lam” and “Esh Elle Sayer featuring Rander”, which reached 172,000 views on YouTube within 2 weeks of its release. We are planning to have more music videos that speak my point of view and the problems that my surrounding community faces.

How do you see the state of hip hop in Saudi Arabia?
As long as the scene has ‘unhealthy’ competitive vibes, it will not evolve to the right level. Nowadays, one sees rappers embracing the concept of ‘being the best’ or ‘being the king of Saudi rap’ reflecting a negative attitude. Unfortunately this will only lead to personal gains and has no benefit for the people. Rappers are selfishly misusing these terms leaving the scene with an unclean competitive spirit and a negative impact on hip-hop in Saudi Arabia and that is not the goal.

Can you talk about your feud with Saudi rapper Slow Moe aka Saudi Thug?
Throughout my career, I have worked with Saudi and Arab rappers including Slow Moe. After my appearance in his first official music video “Khambalah E3lamiya”, we went on our individual paths without having any issues or disagreements. A few weeks ago, Slow Moe shared a video disrespecting me. In reaction to that, the public and rap fans in the country started replying back in my defense and support. Their replies were enough to set things straight. I don’t need to comment any further.

Who are the producers you like working with in the Kingdom?
There aren’t many leading producers here. I’m always working with Sager aka “Legend Killer”, but in terms of sampling, I can say that Ahmad Bugshan aka Bugsy is hands-on the top producer. I have some of his beats on standby ready to be used and at the right time. In the future I will also be collaborating with Khaled Abdulmannan aka K-Light on a new single. But through you and Arab News, let me say I would love to work with other talented local producers.

I don’t believe that you never released an album. Have you? If no, will you be releasing one in 2015?
This question always gets to me. My fans have given me so much love and support and they are the ones who got me where I am today. I have promised them that I will give them an album but so far, I couldn’t deliver due to some struggles we have been facing. For instance, the studio I was recording in shut down with no update on the situation until now. I will do my best to deliver my promise to the people who really want to hear my rhythm and poetry (rap). I would love to ask my fans to give me the time to balance between my family, my studies and my rap.

Who are your top five Arab rappers?
Moroccan rapper “Muslim” leads the way! Klash would come next and the fans can decide who is ranked 3rd, 4th and 5th. This isn’t showing off or disrespecting anyone; there are many good and talented rappers and it’s hard to list them all now. I have confidence in myself and have worked hard to develop myself and I’m still working on it. I lost a lot of years and sacrificed a lot for the rap scene, which has been a challenge for me.

What do you think is missing in Saudi hip-hop?
Most of the rappers want to do it for fame or money. I think they should be honest with their fans and give them what they need to hear not what they think the fans want to listen to, because other genres are there to do that. Saudi rap needs support and acceptance not just financially but in bending some local restrictions in order to have venues where we can connect with our fans under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Information.

What are you currently working on?
I’m shooting my new music video “Away” and hopefully this time I’ll give my fans more and more because I feel I’m shining again with new thoughts. There is also a plan to collaborate with an international American rapper in Red Bull Studio in Los Angeles, USA. It will be something worth waiting for! I will announce it as soon as it’s official. I’m just waiting for a word from there.

Any message for our readers?
I would like to thank Arab News for this opportunity. To the readers and my fans, I would like to ask you all to check my new music videos that are already out on my YouTube channel, Klashfans, and stay tuned for my next music video very soon. I would like to conclude by saying that: My words are Arabic but my message is international.

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