Dubai rapper Ben Rendel plans to push local hip-hop to new heights
Dubai rapper, Ben Rendel plans to push local hip-hop to new heights Dubai-based rapper Ben Rendel is here on a musical mission. He says he wants to put the UAE's hip-hop music scene into the world stage. The British recording artist, producer and songwriter, formerly known as 10Bennys, who feels that there is a lot of talent here, is spearheading the efforts by doing creative visuals and super hype live shows.
Ben has released three EPs this year featuring UAE inspired songs, such as Jumeirah Jane. His videos on www.intrecords.com were shot at Hatta and Kite Beach. One of his songs, Dollars & Dirhams, received a fair amount of airplay on Dubai Eye Radio and Virgin Radio. So far, the rapper has performed in clubs such as Sensation as well as collaborated with other local talent.
Ben says he feels "at home" in Dubai, and this, he says is one of the main the reason he founded INT Records in the UAE to help the local music industry grow. Ben started INT in June this year with his longtime friend Nick Böhnlein. He felt that there were very few places in the country where people could connect with musicians. Besides signing international artists, the company also promotes and supports aspiring talent in the UAE. The rapper who is highly inspired by Kanye West talks to City Times about his music and more.
Tell us something about yourself?
I am originally from Leeds in the UK, but I grew up in the United States. I recall rapping right from the age of 12. My cousin and I used to record songs of our favourite rappers at the time - Kriss Kross and Michael Jackson - on a toy device I got as a Christmas gift. That's how rap started for me.
Who are your rap/hip-hop idols?
Well, that's tough one to answer. There are so many in the game. But, in no particular order, I would say Notorious B.I.G, JAY-Z, 50 Cent, Eminem, Kanye West, Pharrell, Timberland, Dr Dre, Mase, Rick Ross and MF Doom, to name a few.
What has changed about rap/hip-hop over the years?
Oh, so much! The way people rap, the flow, content and the swagger. The content has evolved from party rhymes to a showcase of decadence and wealth. Rappers have become so successful that they transformed from just performing artists to entrepreneurs. The 'braggadociousness' has accelerated. Also, the production values have changed dramatically in recent years - it's more of heavy 808's (a drum machine) and low end bass which really gets people tuned in the music.
What are the new fashion trends in the rap world?
Rap has been making a huge impact on the fashion scene. The current trend in rap/hip-hop right now is more focused on colours, and I too like it!
How can rap be made more appealing to attract listeners of other genres of music?
I think the only way to make that happen is to do more collaborations between artists from hip-hop and other genres. People like David Guetta, Steve Aoki, Pharrell, Kanye West, Calvin Harris and Katy Perry have done this successfully over the years.
What's on your playlist right now?
I've got some 2 Chains, Bruno Mars, Rick Ross, Drake, DJ Khaled, Wiz Kid, Lil Uzi Vert, Ed Sheeran, French Montana, Future, Higher Brothers and of course some Migos, and a few of my own.
What musical plans do you have for the UAE?
I plan to help in developing a strong music scene and a music business infrastructure in the UAE. I feel more live venues are required to truly showcase local talent. Dubai has such an iconic landscape, that filming music videos here is a video director's paradise because of the views and landmarks. So, expect more music videos from me in the future. I am surely here to stay.
Considering the UAE has a limited audience for rap, as compared to other places, how do you plan to woo audiences and get them hooked to rap?
To tell you the truth, the UAE does have a lot of hip hop/rap fans. I have already seen that in my first performance here and during the Open Mic sessions. I've had a tremendous response to my music. Moreover, the music I released this year has connected with people. I have plans to lead from front and push hip-hop from here to the international arena.
Do you have any performances coming up here?
Yes, I have planned a UAE-wide tour. In fact, my first date was at the Sensation Night Club, Crowne Plaza Hotel (last Friday). Then, I have a music video coming up on worldstarhiphop.com
Any rap/hip-hop artist you'd want to see in the UAE.
I would like to bring down Migos to the UAE, because I really think their music is relevant to hip-hop culture.
Why did you choose Dubai as your base?
I've traveled a lot because of my music. After being signed to a record label in Los Angeles, I wanted to establish an international record label in an innovative country. Dubai without doubt, made the most sense to me as a destination to be independent, as I felt - with its 'stopover reputation' meaning artists come through the city to perform for a day or two then leave, we really needed to do something more to build a music culture. My aim is to become a strong arm of the music industry in this region and bring a stronger grassroots approach to the (rap/hip-hop) scene.
Why are there more men doing rap, why not women...
Rap history has shown that more men have been instrumental in the growth of hip-hop since late '70s. In some aspects, I would say it is similar to soccer or football, which is also predominantly dominated by males. However, that doesn't mean that men are the only artists to rule the genre. You know, Nicki Minaj - she's not called the Queen of Rap for nothing. She has achieved accomplishments that has surpassed even the likes of legends like Aretha Franklin - in terms of the most Billboard Number Ones. No doubt, she is my favourite female rapper.
Jaz-Z or Kanye... which one of these rap legends inspire you most
It would have to be Kanye (West) because he's more flamboyant and outspoken. Plus the fact that he is a music producer. I have studied Kanye's production from sampling to songwriting. I clearly remember the day when he came out with his first singles - Through The Wire and All Falls Down - he really impressed me!
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