At the forefront of an emerging hip-hop scene in Dubai, 29-year-old Kaz Money (aka Eddie Kasparian) and his group The Recipe seem destined for success. After reinventing his image, Kaz claims to have moved away from the mainstream in favour of making music that better represents him as an individual. We met him to talk mixtapes, the music industry and local talent.
You’ve just released your latest mixtape, The Ridicule – The Opposition. How does this differ from your previous work?
I guess this one is a lot less focused on trying to appeal to the mass market and more focused on the type of music I’d like to make. The album is split in two: one side is more comedic and aims to entertain people, and the other is more personal and a little more aggressive. My main point is to let people know that you don’t have to conform to everything you see on TV to make music that people can enjoy. The focus at this stage is more on our live performances, so when I make music I usually consider that I’ll need to perform it live at some point.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Growing up, Bob Marley was pretty much the only thing I used to hear, but I’ve been listening to hip-hop ever since I was old enough to know what I was listening to, all the way from Run DMC to underground artists such as Sean Price. I like Eminem a lot – he’s probably one of the biggest artists in music right now, but he’s still one of my favourites.
We’re told this is the last solo project before The Recipe start work on an album together…
I’m pretty excited, because until now The Recipe has been performing together as a unit, but we haven’t recorded any real music as a group other than the mini-mixtape Volume 1 in 2009. It’s nice to have a team behind you, instead of being a solo artist all the time.
What has been your biggest achievement of the past year?
I’ve managed to reinvent myself and reposition myself in people’s minds in terms of what they expect from me and what kind of music they’d like to see from me. When I first came out I had a very commercial sound – I was trying to appeal to a lot of people – but I managed to get rid of that image and help people focus on the type of music I want to make. Rap music is the most commercial kind of music and it’s been flogged by the record companies to a level where it’s become pathetic. They call it the music industry, with emphasis on the word ‘industry.’
What are you most proud of when it comes to your work as an artist?
Honestly? The mixtape release tour we just did. It sounds cheesy, but there were many magical moments. The live show was sick; the crowd reaction was amazing because the people who came were genuinely interested in the product, as opposed to just happening to walk into a club and saying, ‘Uh? What’s going on in here?’
Who do you believe are the ones to watch in Dubai’s urban scene?
If you’re looking for DJs, there are Dany Neville, Bliss and Rone Jaxx. These guys are probably the biggest DJs who have nights at the moment. There’s really only one other artist that made a lot of moves this year in terms of releasing music and building his popularity, and that’s Robin – also part of Dany Neville’s production group Underground Procedures.
Despite the relative success, are you still holding onto a day job?
Yeah! [Laughs] I work six days a week in HR. Basically I fit work around music, as opposed to the other way round. I don’t need a mansion – if I can live comfortably off music, pay my bills and maybe go on vacation every once in a while, I’m happy.
The Ridicule – The Opposition is available for free download at www.mediafire.com. Hard copies are distributed at Kaz Money and The Recipe events – keep an eye on Time Out for details.