x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

On a quest for hip-hop in Dubai with DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad

We speak to DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad about his creative process and the importance of maintaining originality in his work.

The DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who was formerly part of the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Courtesy Cipher Entertainment
The DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who was formerly part of the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Courtesy Cipher Entertainment

Old-school hip-hop will be in full effect in Dubai tomorrow night.

Bringing the beats at Casa Latina in Al Barsha's Ibis Hotel will be DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the Brooklyn producer from the legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest.

Muhammad explains he is looking forward to his debut UAE performance as it is a welcome break from the studio.

"Being on the road and DJing helps me in the creative process," he says.

"I am always digging in the crates and trying to find music that people didn't hear for a long time, and that process when I am Dj-ing opens me up as a producer as I sometimes think: 'Oh, this is dope, I can't wait to sample this'."

Muhammad's soulful beats with A Tribe Called Quest have been continuously sampled and used as reference points by a new generation of artists. While grateful for the appreciation, Muhammad is happy with the group's legacy and has moved on to explore different directions with productions and remixes for the likes of Jamiroquai, Brand New Heavies and the late Whitney Houston. He will only sign up to collaborate with an artist if they are willing to be challenged.

"I don't want to work with anyone who wants to do something that has been done," he says. "It doesn't do anything for me and it doesn't do anything for the artform to copy someone else. You have to be original."

Ironically, this is why, despite the hunger from fans (and record labels), it has been 14 years since A Tribe Called Quest released their last album, The Love Movement.

"We set the level so high, even if we did get back together, it may not even match the expectation of the people," he says.

"It can work for you in the creative process or against you."

DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad is at Casa Latina, Ibis Hotel, Al Barsha, Dubai, from 10pm. Tickets cost Dh125 and will be available at the door.