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Saudi hip hop: A journey from contempt to popular recognition

Saudi hip hop: A journey from contempt to popular recognition

Many refer to the 1990s in Jeddah as the beginning of hip-hop in the kingdom but its popularity didn’t grow until 10 years later.

At a slow but steady pace, Saudi hip-hop art has climbed the ladder of spreading throughout the Kingdom. It was not an easy transition, as the nineties were timid years for art still considered “imported” at the time.


Saudi hip-hop or rap had to wait for the beginning of the third millennium to come to light, thanks to the Internet, YouTube, and later social media.

Over the past few years, hip-hop and rap in Saudi Arabia have grown rapidly, thanks to the internet.

Hip-hop singers in the Kingdom and the Arab region promote their art by broadcasting their work online, especially on YouTube.

Hip-hop singers have made themselves stars and built a solid fan base for this type of music, according to a report by the “about her” website.

Saudi rap started in the nineties

Many refer to the 1990s in Jeddah as the beginning of hip-hop in the kingdom, but its popularity didn’t grow until 10 years later.

Today, the list of the Kingdom’s most famous artists includes Muhammad Al-Muhalhal, known as “Slomo”, and Bakr Al-Jilani, known as “Lil Eazy”.

The list also includes Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, known as “Clash,” and Qusai Khader, better known as “Don Legend,” a famous singer, songwriter, producer, and television personality.

The kingdom’s singers produce an unusual mix of rap, merging Gulf music and lyrics with traditional American hip-hop rhythms.

 Rappers address issues specific to the country, from love and acceptance to equality and a shared future. But what is most distinctive about Saudi rap is the absence of profanity or vulgarity in the songs.

Reject Strange Terms

It has been observed that some rappers have been moving towards producing work that contains explicit words that are considered offensive by the audience, prompting some of the most prominent old rappers to discuss this.

Hassan Dhanawy, known as “Big Hass,” stressed that he is against profanity and terms alien to Saudi society. He pointed to the lack of knowledge and understanding of its meaning and history.

Big Hass chose a different path from other radio broadcasters, and his love for hip-hop music made his show “Leish Hip-Hop”.

“Leish Hip Hop” is the first Arab radio show to celebrate rap, and his blog “Re-vault” highlights promising young voices and celebrates the diversity of the contemporary Arab music world.

During Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reign, a series of reforms were instituted aimed at diversifying the Kingdom’s economy. These reforms were aimed at developing the entertainment, tourism, and sports industries.

 Public concerts by international artists were held for the first time last year. US rapper Nelly, Greek Yanni, and Algeria’s Cheb Khaled were among the few musicians selected to sing.

Qusai Khader

Qusai Khader is the first and most famous Saudi rap star, and he formed the “Jeddah Legends” team.

When the team was founded, it included Qusai “Don Legend”, Murad “Mo Jax”, Ashraf “Wolf”, and Hassan “Big H”, the band’s business manager and owner of the institution.

Qusay became famous in Saudi Arabia in 2002, after his return from the United States.

One of the founders of hip-hop in Saudi Arabia, who accompanied this art in all its stages, Qusay Khader

He recalled the beginnings, saying: “In the past, the public did not take this art seriously. Even hip-hop was not known in the Kingdom, which made it difficult to prove oneself.

He added, today it is still difficult to prove oneself for emerging talents. This is amid the crowding of social media and the amount of content provided to the younger generation through it.

Saudi hip-hop is between two times

“Every time has its difficulty,” says Khader, who senses a difference in the Saudi hip-hop scene today:

He said, “The diversity and development of this art have become an essential part of songs and advertisements, allowing people to closely examine it and feel that Saudi hip-hop artists are not copies of foreigners.”

In this context, Qusai Khader says: “The interest in hip-hop has increased recently to the point that international artists are visiting Saudi Arabia and giving concerts here, which has allowed emerging local talents to open these concerts.”

Cleanliness of speech does not contradict freedom

Qusai Khader seems satisfied with the reality of hip-hop spreading in the Kingdom. However, what he is not satisfied with, as he puts it, “are the periods in which hip-hop slips to a line that does not conform to our customs and traditions in terms of vulgar speech and violations.”

 He warns that “if we continue like this, no one will take us seriously and we will be seen as outsiders.”

Khedr was keen on developing art in Saudi Arabia.

The artist, nicknamed “Don Legend”, introduced hip-hop and marketed it in every media space that opened to him; whether through television programs or his remarkable presence as a presenter of the “Arabs Got Talent” program.

 Between 2008 and 2018, Khader devoted a decade to his beloved cause, producing 5 music albums. He is currently preparing for his sixth album.

Qusai opened up to other musical genres, identifying himself as a music lover, before showing his hip-hop energy.

He intensified his collaboration with other artists, sticking to meaningful songs and appropriate content in line with his upbringing, personality, and convictions.

He says that he has reached a stage where he only competes with himself and is not challenged by anyone else. However, this confidence does not prevent him from reading other names that attract him, such as “Lil Easy”, the senior leader, Majid, Muhannad, Shaker, Rakan, and “Saleem”.

There are two decades between Qusai and Blackbee, but the two agree on the cleanliness of speech.

Blackbee says in this context: “There are things I would not like to say as a human being and not just as an artist.

It adds more careful values and laws to the system. This does not mean that I suppress myself, but I do not accept offending anyone and aspire to raise Saudi Arabia’s flag through my art.”


Among the new talents that have established themselves in Saudi hip-hop fans’ hearts is “BLACKBBY BLVXB”.

 Behind this mysterious and strange name hides a clear love for music and a desire to modernize it.

He said, “We are tired of songs of love and parting. The current generation needs someone who reflects their voice and represents their identity. I am honest with myself before others.

He adds themes to my songs stemming from real experiences that I narrate without giving advice or imposing opinions. I let people react in their way.”

Blackbee tells stories through his songs. His biggest dream is to collaborate with major rap artists at the Arab level. This dream is being realized through the album he is preparing.

He asserted that “there must be openness to cooperation and joint productions so that Saudi rap can achieve more breakthroughs at the Arab level.”

 Says Hassan Ahmed, who explains that Saudi Arabia is number one on the map of Gulf hip-hop. However, it still has more to achieve in the Arab world.

Uday Talal

A rapper presents his songs in classical Arabic, and he is known for choosing the lyrics of his songs very carefully, and he is not ashamed.

One of his most famous songs is “Hojan”, but he retired from this field permanently because of the art of “low rap”, according to his point of view, and his rejection of what rap artists present in Saudi Arabia.

Lil Easy

His real name is Bakr Al-Jilani, one of the most active rappers of this period. One of his most famous songs is “Al-Ittihad”, which he prepared for the Saudi Al-Ittihad Club’s 90th-anniversary celebration.

His song “Makkah Our Right” provoked many reactions on social networking sites. He previously released a song entitled “Ya Al Khal” that discusses racist expressions rampant in Saudi Arabia.

Lil Eazy, or Abu Bakr Al-Jilani, is a Somali hip-hop singer born and raised in Saudi Arabia. His adventure in music dates back to 2007 when he started his career as a solo singer.

One year later, Lil Easy released his first single. Only a year later, he joined Knockout Crew, a hip-hop group from Jeddah…and since then he has been a star.

At the time, hip-hop’s reputation and popularity were negative. Lil Easy wanted to change the way people think about hip-hop music in Saudi Arabia, moving away from unfamiliar tracks and instead focusing on content that is more relevant to people.

 In doing so, he became the first rapper in the Kingdom to take this path and be accepted and admired by a diverse demographic.

In April 2014, Knockout Crew signed a contract with Jeddah Legends Recording Company in Saudi Arabia.

In 2017, Lil Eazy became a solo artist and stayed with the label until October of that year. Soon after, he signed a contract with Outlaw Productions.

The rising star has since gained huge popularity across the region, thanks to his unique style. His song “Millionaire” is one of his most successful songs, garnering over a million views on YouTube shortly after its release.

He co-produced the Saudi 2018 World Cup anthem alongside Jason Derulo and Aseel Omran. It garnered huge media attention in the years since then and has been successful to this day.

In 2019, Lil Easy presented many different concerts and festivals including the annual Spring of Culture Festival in Bahrain.


Kalash or Muhammad Al-Ghamdi, an Arab rapper called himself a Kalashnikov. He was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on March 1, 1986. He is famous for rap songs in Saudi Arabia.

His artistic career

The Clash began his artistic career in late 2004, and his first rap appearance was singing cool songs.

 Like most hip-hop or rap singers, Clash began his career as an underground singer, or Under Ground Rapper.

 That is, he sings under the spotlight from work and production songs through very simple tools and informal parties. He releases his songs online through forums.

 He started with “Kol” songs, which caused an uproar in Saudi and Arab society and drew Saudi youth’s attention to hip-hop or rap.

 Because of the cool songs, Clash was subjected to criticism by the authorities and the higher authorities. This is because cool songs were bold.

 Cool songs talk about a local group of young people in the Kingdom called “Cole” and other daring things.

After the Cole songs, Clash was imprisoned for insulting and cursing. Kalash was in prison for about 3 months and during that time he thought of a song to sing right after he got out of prison

A song he wrote about his mother became the name of the song I love you after he wrote the lyrics.

Catch him

In 2007, after he was arrested and referred by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution to the court with a list of accusations, including insulting, insulting, and mocking groups of society,

He was sentenced to 3 months in prison after sympathizing with him due to his young age of 21 years at the time.

Media appearance

In late 2008, Kalash appeared in Ahmar Bel Khat Al Arid on LBC. He explained all the difficulties he faced in spreading his art in Saudi society and revealed himself and his personality to all.

The episode of the Ahmar Bel Khat Al Arid program changed Kalash’s distorted image in everyone’s minds. It also contributed to his substantial media advantage in increasing his television fame and obtaining acting offers.

He was also interviewed on MBC FM radio with the introduction, Khadija, explaining his beginnings and rap.

Interviews were also conducted with him in many fields, most notably Rotana magazine and the Lebanese magazine Snob. Rotana magazine had Kalash and the band on its front cover.

Series & Movies

Clash starred in episode 18 of “Banye wa Baynak 3”, accompanied by Hassan Asiri and Fayez Al-Malki. Clash won the series’ starring role.

He also made a video clip for Mother’s Day 2009. Kalash made a video clip for the song “Mother” and presented it on MBC and MTV Arabia.

Youth parties

Kalash has many youth parties for Arab rap listeners, including a Citroen DS 3 launch party, a special party for the orphanage, and other parties.

Made in Saudi Arabia

Kalash presented the play “Made in Saudi Arabia” at Abraq Al-Raghama Theater in Jeddah, as part of the Jeddah Summer activities.

The play presents several messages and concepts by raising the issue of Saudi students on scholarships abroad. It also addresses some of the negatives, positives, and facilities provided by the state to them.

Abdulrahman “Ebadi”

Abdul Rahman “Ebadi” is considered one of the founders of rap in Saudi Arabia. He began his rap career in 2001 when he joined the “Eyal Al Gharbia” team before being expelled and retired in 2010.

The Saudi audience considered Abadi the traditional rival of “Clash,” and they exchanged insults in many of their songs.

Black Ar

A team made up of two young men, Faisal and Joe, released their songs in Arabic and English. The song “Jamal Al Summer” is one of their most famous releases, and it is produced by the “Rotana” company. But for unknown reasons, Faisal and Joe stopped their activities and withdrew from the scene.

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