Hip hop battle in Dubai

Regional hip-hop and R&B face-off, Battle Time comes to Sensation Club

Chanelle Tourish looks at some of the acts performing in Dubai’s first hip-hop and R&B face-off, Battle Time.

Battle Time is Dubai’s first hip-hop and R&B clash featuring five regional artists competing for a grand prize of Dhs5,000 and the chance to be crowned best urban act in the city. While it’s not quite a one-on-one battle, such as Eminem’s 8 Mile, it will take a similar format where each act battles against each other (just not at the same time).

The event, organised by Instinct Communication takes place at Sensation Club at the Crowne Plaza on Friday January 16. The agency aims to shed light on emerging hip-hop acts across the Middle East and provide recognition for street art initiatives.

Entrants were asked to submit an original song for consideration. These were narrowed down to five acts to compete in the final, and each will perform a track accompanied by professional dancers from Dubai’s Step Up Academy. A team of judges – including yours truly, along with Virgin Radio’s Kris Fade and Music Producer Don Fuego – will crown the winner on the night. Here, we bring you the biogs of some of the acts set to perform.

Born and raised in Dubai but of Lebanese origins, Noor, aka ‘N1yah’, has been involved in music from an early age. While she doesn’t have a professional music background, the singer began rapping at the age of
12. ‘I always knew that I preferred hip-hop and rap music to Arabic music, rock and metal, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I could turn my passion for it into a career, and especially not in Dubai,’ N1yah says.

Her interest in hip-hop culture began at university, where she had more freedom and opportunities to practise singing, acting and dancing. She then went on to participate in an event called ‘International Night,’ were she was scheduled for a rap performance that she never got to rehearse for. Despite this, she still managed to go on stage and impress, and came to the attention of DJ Bliss, a local favourite in the city.

‘My style can vary, I’m very versatile and I try not to limit myself to any category. I had to fight to do music and for my family to accept that, so for me, it’s is more than just a hobby; it’s want I want to do for life.

My main ambition is to put the Middle East on the map when it comes to hip-hop and I will keep working until I represent my region in the best way worldwide,’ explains N1yah. Dubbed the Nicki Minaj of the Middle East, she continues to produce tracks, including ‘My name is N1yah’.

Milana Castro, aka Miimii Guapita, is of Angolan and Portuguese decent. Born in Angola, her family moved to Cuba when she was five months old. She was enrolled in ballet school as a toddler, which sparked her passion for dancing. Being exposed to Cuban lifestyle, Miimii learned to dance kizomba, zouk, kuduro, Brazilian funk and Samba. Taking a whole different angle to music she began singing and writing lyrics at the age of 15. After moving to the UAE, Miimii tried her hand at modelling before finally putting her music talent to work last year, collaborating with producer Don Fuego. Her debut single ‘Keeps on Going’ will be released by the end of the year.

24-year-old singer Fadl was born and raised in Dubai and started rapping as a hobby at 15. He turned his hobby into a profession and started mastering the craft of music, producing and rapping when he moved to London in 2008. With ten years experience and no formal musical training, the self-made artist channels inspiration from all genres of music. ‘I love jazz, rock and classical just as much as I love hip-hop and they certainly play a role in what I produce and write. I plan to move out to the US in a year or two after establishing myself in the Dubai and the UAE,’ he says.

After the release of his debut New Chapter, he unleashed Two.17, which he describes as ‘a more developed and mature sound’. A lot of positive feedback from London-based artists, producers and industry professionals followed and Fadl started working more on his vocals, incorporating different instruments and sounds and began work on his third album – Neverland. Much darker than his previous two, the idea for this record was conceived in London but fully recorded and produced in Dubai’s Soundstruck Studios with the help of the city’s Radio 1 DJ and hip-hop ambassador Dany Neville.
Battle Time. Free. Friday January 16. 11.30pm-3am. Sensation Club, Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 331 1111).

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