UAE is opening its doors to rap music, says Syrian rapper

Dhanusha Gokulan / 4 August 2014
Ahmad Molham Makki’s style of rapping perhaps has the distinction of being poetic and something that has a strong social message.
From the clothes he wears, to the chains he wears and the attitude he sports, Ahmad Molham Makki, aka Molham Rebel, is every inch a rapper. But unlike several rappers, who are all about making it big with the syncopated lyrics, Makki’s style of rapping perhaps has the distinction of being poetic and something that has a strong social message.
Take for example his song ‘Chai Over Money’ that he rapped during an interview with Khaleej Times. “A prisoner in your mind, a free man on the outside; it’s okay if you’re dead, you can always act alive; artificial life has never felt better or worse; you die in between blessings, living inside a curse.”
A multi-lingual rapper, Makki raps in both English and Arabic. “Rap is something that technically anyone can do. You read out the lyrics the same way; it sounds the same. The tough bit in rapping is writing the song. It is more of poetry … and rapping in Arabic especially, because it is such a complex language,” said Makki.
A Syrian national who hails from Alleppo, Makki spent a lot of his growing up years in Dubai. “I … (changed) … almost four schools while growing up … I guess I was a busy body in school, easily picked for bullying because I was short and blonde,” added Makki. He is currently pursuing a course in music production at SAE Institute and is due to graduate in September this year.  Speaking about the opportunity for rap in the country, Makki said: “There are two kind of rappers as far as I know. One is the kind that does it for the sake of rapping, or perhaps (to) make money out of the art. The other half are the ones who feel the music. There is a mix of both kind of artists here in the UAE.”
The young Syrian has been listening to rap music since he was 11-years old. According to him, American rap artist Eminem was the “start and end” of his rap music aspirations. “However, as I grew older I realised what his forte of music is and I wanted to bring in my own style into the rap and create something that has my signature style.”
He started rapping professionally in 2012 and writes two types of lyrics. “When I rap in Arabic, I speak of the social and political issues in the region. About a year ago, I wrote a song on the Syrian conflict, but when I write in English, I write about myself and my attempts to escape from my comfort zones.”
The scene for rappers is growing in the country, according to Makki. “When I decided to launch a career in rapping in 2012, I saw that there are a lot of platforms opening up for rappers … Almost like a lot of rappers are waking up. I’ve been drawing inspiration from a lot of Arab rappers as well.”
The young rapper is currently working on a concept album called ‘Ground Zero’. “I’m dabbling with a radio theatre kind of concept that is cut into eight tracks,” he said.
The album is also part of his final thesis when he graduates from SAE. Makki’s work can be accessed on or