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Saudi's love for hip-hop takes him far.

Summary: Big Hass who hosts the only hip-hop radio show in Saudi Arabia has big plans for the future

Image Credit: Sadiya A Nadeem, Special to Gulf News

Jeddah: Hassan Ahmad Dennaoui, or better known by his emcee name, Big Hass, is the successful radio host of the Laish Hip-Hop show on Saudi Mix FM which has been seven years running.

Speaking to Gulf News, the Saudi radio personality says he wants to empower citizens through art and music.

"Laish Hip-Hop" (Why Hip-Hop?) is the country's first and only hip-hop radio show - it airs prime time on Saturday for two hours and can be streamed online.

The show not only plays Arabic and English hip-hop, but also sheds light on hip-hop as a culture, features interviews with music artists, and promotes local and regional rappers.

Laish Hip Hop has garnered listeners worldwide and Big Hass has a huge fan following on all social media platforms. As his popularity grew in the region, he was also asked to emcee at various events around the globe. The Jeddah-born music lover chose hip-hop over other music genres because he felt it was being misrepresented by the mass media.

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"Rap, which is rhythm and poetry, is all about the power of words and the ability to express yourself freely."

Big Hass' journey into the world of music started almost a decade back.

Middle Eastern artists like Narcy, Omar Offendum, Lowkey and Shadia Mansour were among his inspirations.

In 2006, he started blogging about underground music. He followed radio shows by American rapper Chuck D and Stretch and Bobbito which showcased "some of the best 90s music in the world."

His blog catapulted him into an online magazine called Re-Volt where mainstream music is openly discussed, and underground artists are given a platform. 
"Our main focus is to expose hip-hop as a positive genre and detach it from corrupted mainstream hip-hop. The online magazine hopes to reach more readers worldwide to enlighten them about the power of words and the role of hip-hop in the Arab region," said Big Hass.

Dennaoui, who was schooled in Jeddah, did not speak English until his father moved him to Sharjah at the age of 18 to study at the International School of Choueifat.

He then moved back to Jeddah where he lived for many years and married.

He moved back to Dubai over a year ago so that his seven-year-old son who has autism would receive better treatment and therapy.

Big Hass still records Laish Hip-Hop that airs in Jeddah but is working on a new show for Dubai.

He was unable to release any details about the new show.

In the next five years, Big Hass hopes to organise a hip-hop festival in Dubai.

- Sadiya is a freelance journalist based in Jeddah

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Nov 10, 2017
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