With his soulful vocals and powerful lyrics, Saudi artist Majeed, is on our “to watch” list. The 26-year-old rapper, who became a marketing specialist after graduating from Lynn University in Florida, switched tracks in order to pursue his career in music.
He has been active in the local hip-hop music scene for the past few years, having performed at multiple events, including Sole DXB. After collaborating with other artists, such as Moh Flow, Qusai, and Hamdan Al Abri, Majeed is launching his first album, Tomato Soup. Ahead of his album’s pre-launch party at The Living Room in Dubai on March 6th and the official launch on March 7th, we talked to the artist about hip-hop in the GCC, listening to Bob Marley as a child, and the story behind his debut album.
OLIVE SEVILLA: What has been the most difficult part of pursuing a hip-hop career in the GCC?
MAJEED: The most difficult part is getting the people here to take you seriously and respect what you do. Being from the Middle East, I know how the majority looks at hip-hop; most people who don’t truly understand it look down upon hip-hop musicians and the art of rap, in general. They assume that it is about money, women, and partying—all based on what they see on TV—but that’s just one side of the coin. Hip-hop represents the truth, and sometimes, the truth is too much for people, which is why it is the most criticized genre. I’m going to try to change that in the GCC.
How and when did you to decide to become a musician?
I’ve always been interested in music, ever since my dad used to play Bob Marley while taking me to kindergarten. I’d make him rewind the same song until I reached my school. My dad played a big role in my music career without even knowing it; whenever I’d get into trouble as a child, he’d make me sit in my room and write about why I got into trouble and why I won’t do it again, which led me to write poetry and it just became a way for me to vent.
Later, I moved to Florida for university, where I met my friend who played the guitar and introduced me to a microphone at the age of 22—I haven’t let it go since.
Hip-hop in the Middle East is not as mainstream as it is in the West, but do you feel that it has a certain effect on the region’s youth?
Hip-hop has always been around in the Middle East, but people are only starting to notice it now because of all the outlets we have to put ourselves out there. I’m a product of hip-hop—it has shaped me into the man I am today and I see it shaping my little brother and all the young kids I know.
How has the reception been to your music so far?
I’ve had great feedback so far, but I’ve yet to put out a whole project. By debuting Tomato Soup, I will truly understand how people view my music.