Kuwait's Elusive Hip Hop Scene: Evidence Found

Just when I thought homegrown hip hop in Kuwait was a more difficult sighting than a Sasquatch, Bazaar Magazine, in their June issue, interviewed a local band.  Below is the interview and the link can be found here.  I feel the interview could have been conducted a lot better.  The questions consisted of a generic stockpile and did seem to be the kind that someone who had listened to the group's music beforehand would have posited forth.  All that was missing was for the reporter to also ask the rappers what their favorite color was or their favorite ninja turtle, for that matter. 

 Its really a missed opportunity as I gathered no understanding of the most crucial element of any hip hop artist's work: their lyrics and the causes they rap about.  Also, how could the reporter not follow up a question, after one of the members mentioned how their album had been censored in Kuwait, about the challenges of being a q8i hop hop artist in terms of censorship, limited outlets for live performances and the type of local following they have.  There is not even a song sample, video or link to a myspace page or website.  On the other hand, the band's self-promotion drive could use a pair of new lungs.  While it seems "all eyes are on Army of One", both the interviewer and q8i restrictions ensure that they fall on deaf ears.  Does anyone know about this band and what they actually rap about? 


The Army of One is Kuwait’s very own grassroots rap and hip hop group, homegrown to bring us fresh rhymes and soulful beats that carry a message of strength and endurance. It’s not easy breaking boundaries, and that is exactly what the Army of One did with their debut underground album Alienation back in 2002-03, when the band first started working with Alien Records. No strangers to adversity, Army of One has swum against the current to offer listeners an authentic rap and hip hop sound which is going strong until today, making no excuses for breaking molds wherever it can.

Although four young men comprise the group, the band derived its name from the symbolism behind the importance of being one; sticking together to effect change in a regional music industry which all too often seems strewn with identical faces. It’s also not easy bringing a musical identity which originated from a specific community within the United States to the Arab mainstream, remolding and re-adapting it to another culture which all four men in the band hold close to their hearts. Yet they all feel the music within them, having had grown up listening to it, and testifying to many personal experiences which they went through in their lives that are similar to the plight endured by the pioneers of soul, rap and hip hop.

DUB G, Daffy, Arab Face and QB are the Army of One. Together, they bring Sudanese, Palestinian and Kuwaiti heritage to the mic, making no false pretenses about their staunch loyalty to the countries to which they belong. It is the struggle of being Arab in the world, and the fight to create controversial music in a largely conservative society, which motivates them to keep on moving. They know who they are and what they love, and they have a passion to sing it loud and proud. They had to face critics who accused them of importing a foreign musical style, authorities red-taping their creativity, and record labels imposing commercial sounds on their musical preference, and yet they came out on top and are here to today to speak with bazaar about it. Dub G writes and delivers the rap, and produces the music along with Daffy. Daffy, Arab Face and QB sing, and their diverse and strong vocal styles have received praises from many who appreciate what it means to live out your dream. Army of One will be coming out with a new album soon, so stay tuned. Below, bazaar’s Q&A with the band sheds more light on the men behind the voices.

bazaar questionnaire :

bazaar: Do you hope that the Army of One can become the most famous regional hip hop/rap group?

Dub G: Let’s just get one thing straight: The Army of One is the most famous regional rap and hip hop group. In the 6 years we’ve been out here, we’re still the only group to have dropped 2 official albums in the market across the Middle East. We’re still the only the group that has had 6 major video clips playing on TV, and we achieved all of this before MTV Arabia and other major satellites were launched. We went from nothing to the top, and we started the official movement of rap and hip hop in the music industry in the Middle East.

QB: What I want to hear is, “If it wasn’t for the Army of One, we wouldn’t be here”.

b: Why did you choose this type of music, and why is rap and hip hop important to you?

Arab Face: We grew up listening to this music, and we loved the beats, lyrics, and realism that comes with it. The whole culture behind it suits us perfectly. We always put Arabic in there somehow in someway to mix both cultures and creation fusion. It makes us unique.

DUB G: I chose rap because it defines a person within; it’s a way of life, a culture and a mentality that hardly anyone dares to bring out to the light. At least that’s how it was when I first started back in the 80s and 90s, and now it may be more in the mainstream, but rappers who keep it real don’t usually have the chance to get the exposure they need due to political reasons. That’s just a shame.

Daffy: It is the essential type of music. It’s one of the biggest sounds, and everyone can listen to it. It allows you to easily get your message through to people’s minds and hearts.

b: What challenges have you faced as a band, and how did overcoming them affect your band?

QB: The biggest challenge to me was when they stopped the first album from selling in Kuwait (due to censorship issues). Kuwait was where all our fans were at the beginning, so without them we weren’t anything. We tried very hard to make the second album stronger. We put everything we have into it, and that one started selling in Kuwait. It made us stronger.

 b: What five words describe you?

QB: True, honest, real, thankful, fun

Arab Face: Trustful, positive, loyal, real, learner

Daffy: Loony, chilled, picky, laidback, mysterious

Dub G: Quiet, soldier, rage, unpredictable, lazy

b: What is your greatest fear?

Arab Face: Fear

Dub G: Closed areas

Daffy: The sea

QB: God

b: What is the quality you like most in a woman?

Daffy: The way she thinks

QB: Character

Dub G: A classy lady, like the ladies back in the day who knew their limits and had self respect

Arab Face: An intelligent, educated, soulful, strong and real woman with self respect and a good sense of humor

b: If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?

Dub G: I’ll keep that to myself

QB: Visit Timbaland’s studio and watch magic at its best

Arab Face: I’d watch Michael Jackson spending his day

Daffy: Become the richest human being (and you don’t want to know how)

b: Who is your role model?

Daffy: Both my parents, because they are strong and never gave up.

Arab Face: My mother. Everything good in me is because of her, and Allah.

Dub G: I’m my own role model!

QB: I have two: My father for his strength and success, and my mother for always being there for us.

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