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Saudi-American Rapper $kinny on Getting Ready to Branch Out, Exploring Everything from Food to Film

The Saudi-American rapper $kinny is ready to branch out, exploring everything from food to film.


Blazer, top, pants, Fendi; shoes, Skinny’s own. Photo: Abeer Ahmed

For Saudi-American rapper $kinny, being musically inclined runs in his blood. Having a grandfather who was a music teacher and an uncle who gifted him his first guitar, the rapper gravitated towards music at a young age. “I grew up learning how to play the guitar and piano,” he says. Sami Hamed, who goes by the rapper name $kinny in part due to his slender frame, is based in Los Angeles. He grew up traveling between Jeddah and LA. “They say home is where the heart is and my heart is in two places,” he remarks. $kinny was born to a Saudi father and an American mother and attributes his music to his bicultural upbringing and lifestyle. “It’s everything; it’s who I am. You can definitely hear how being from both cultures has shaped my music. I’m all about clashing the two worlds musically in a tasteful way,” says the rapper. Whether it’s his records like “Tamam” or “Never Snitch” where he uses Arabic words and phrases, to records like “Pass Out” where there is an Arabic percussion section, $kinny takes pride in representing both cultures.

Top, Dolce & Gabbana; shoes, $kinny’s own. Photo: Abeer Ahmed

In 2014, after releasing a mixtape called “Ghetto Disneyland,” the rapper caught the attention of Warner/Chappell Music, and nothing has been the same since. $kinny’s big break transpired in 2019 when his single “Never Snitch” came out. “I could feel the impact and how that record really resonated with the fans,” says the rapper. The Saudi-American is not only vocally talented, but also writes and produces all of his music. “I’m most creative whenever the vibe hits me. It could be at any time; I get inspired by the most random things.”

In preparation for taking a stage by storm, the bicultural rapper makes sure he is well rested, has a good meal, and has run through his lyrics a few times. MDL BEAST 2022 marked the rapper’s first time back in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in years, and with more than 40,000 spectators at his set, the show was beyond capacity. “DJ Khaled was on at the same time as me on another stage – he brought out Future, Rick Ross, TI, and more artists, so it was amazing to see Saudis come support me,” $kinny says. In 2019, his album Thank You For Nothing charted at number one on Apple Music Middle East. “I am extra proud of that moment because we did that on our own. No big budgets, no major co-signs, just me and my team working hard, having fun, and creating art,” he adds.


T-shirt, pants, Valentino; shoes, Skinny’s own. Photo: Abeer Ahmed

A typical day in the life of $kinny consists of spending time with friends and family, eating good food, and, of course, making music. “I like to chill, and I like to game when I have some free time,” he says. That is on a day when he’s not running his own record label. The humble rapper quietly wears many hats as he is also the CEO and Founder of 966 Entertainment. What can be expected from this venture? $kinny says, “We have got a lot on the way – of course new music, new visuals, my clothing line, and I’m also getting in the food and restaurant space because I love to eat.”

Outside of the rap world, $kinny is interested in getting his feet wet in the film industry and is eager to take on the persona of another character. The rapper has also collaborated with Swizz Beatz and French Montana but would consider it a dream to collaborate with 50 Cent. “I grew up on Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and that is one of the reasons why I got into hip hop. It’s awesome seeing him grow into a mogul with the film and TV stuff he does. He has to call me for a role, I know they need an Arab character on one of his shows!” laughs $kinny.

Blazer, shirt, pants, Valentino; shoes, $kinny’s own. Photo: Abeer Ahmed

The artist knows success doesn’t come quick or easy but leaves words of comfort to anyone looking to break into the industry: “Just keep pushing and keep learning. Never stop trying to improve and be the best version of yourself. Always keep finding new inspiration to create. There is a lot that can be discouraging working as a creative, but it is important to stay true to the love of it.”

Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Vogue Man Arabia

Style: Mohammad Hazem Rezq
Production: Mohanned Turki, Shamis Ali, Latoya Kessie
Production assistant: Hussain Battar

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