Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Sharjah finds its way on to the rap music map with the release of ‘Akshun’

Faisal Salah speaks to Arab rapper Khaled Fouad about the release of his first album

Artist Khaled Fouad, also known as Kafv, recording in his studio. Courtesy Jandri Angelo Aguilor
Artist Khaled Fouad, also known as Kafv, recording in his studio. Courtesy Jandri Angelo Aguilor

For Khaled Fouad, music is more than just a hobby. The rapper, 26, who grew up in Abu Dhabi and lives in Sharjah, got his musical education by listening to Nas and Notorious B I G and dreamt of following in their lyrical footsteps. For him, hip-hop is a very serious medium of expression and now he’s got the chance to express himself through the genre, releasing his first album this week.

Fouad, whose stage name is Kafv (pronounced Kafu), started dabbling with music production only three years ago and the result is Akshun, a body of work that samples music from India, Japan and Egypt.

With a title based on the Arabic way of saying “action”, the album lives up to its name, with the aforementioned samples complemented by Fouad’s quick and witty bars that speak to his outlook on life.

Artist Khaled Fouad, also known as Kafv, in his studio. Photo by Jandri Angelo Aguilor 
Artist Khaled Fouad, also known as Kafv, in his studio. Photo by Jandri Angelo Aguilor

The album, Fouad says, is very much borne from his upbringing in Abu Dhabi. “It definitely influenced my work, just from interactions with people of different nationalities, from the friendships I’d made and from the kind of lifestyle we had,” he says.

You can see some of that influence on the album’s cover, too, where the musician worked with an Indian artist on an illustration that shows Fouad wearing the jersey of Al Jazira Club, one of the capital’s most popular football teams. The artist in question has also made a poster for Bollywood films, according to the rapper, and his signature style shines through.

Akshun album cover by Kafv
'Akshun' album cover by Kafv

The cover art also nods to some of the content that listeners will find on the track list. An Indian influence begins with the very first song, Cobras, which samples an old Bollywood track lifted from a film and features distinctive beats from the country’s traditional music.

There is no doubt that the rap and hip-hop scene in the UAE is growing, and artists such as Fouad are working hard to make their voices heard. “I think the Arab rap scene is going through a very interesting moment. In Egypt, Jordan and the entire Levantine region it has been quite explosive because of social media.”

However, it is also a scene that is difficult to break into, he says. “Arab hip-hop has been around since the late 1990s, but it’s been in a very dormant form, an exclusive, inaccessible form.”

Fouad is aware that music might not provide a stable financial income, which is why it has been so difficult for him to push his music production beyond the status of a passion project. When asked about what he wants audiences to get out of his music, he says: “I don’t know many people who do this kind of thing, so maybe I can be the leading voice. I think that’s important, too, because it’s a very interesting sound and it’s a good dimension to add to hip-hop.”

Based on the sounds coming from his debut, it feels safe to say we may well be seeing more “akshun” from Fouad, with the releases of more records in the future.

Updated: August 4, 2019 07:08 PM

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