UAE's DJ Bliss talks up new tracks 'Yalla Africa' and Shaggy collaboration 'Hala Walla'

The Emirati DJ and producer is inspired by Afrobeat for both upbeat songs


Enid Grace Parker

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Published: Wed 26 Oct 2022, 2:33 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 Oct 2022, 4:41 PM

Emirati DJ and producer Marwan Al Awadhi, popularly known as DJ Bliss, is taking a new and exciting direction with his latest tracks. One is Yalla Africa, made in collaboration with African dance group and viral sensation Triplets Ghetto Kids.

The foot-tapping Yalla Africa mixes Arabic rhythms with elements of Afrobeat, a music genre that DJ Bliss says is all the rage right now in the UAE clubbing scene and one he loves playing.

“It’s a style of music I love,” he told City Times in a recent interview, adding, “It’s definitely one of the most popular styles in the clubs today. It’s upbeat, and when we speak about making people feel good and want to dance and have a good time, naturally I gravitated towards this style of music. Honestly, maybe you don’t hear it so much on the radio, but a lot of the hit songs that are playing in the clubs are predominantly Afrobeat songs.”

An upbeat and entertaining tune, Yalla Africa has an equally engaging video, shot in Uganda. DJ Bliss took us through the process of making the track (released September 28) which has already racked up over a million views on YouTube.

“I saw a couple of videos of these kids dancing and I thought it was amazing; so, I posted a video and asked my followers, who are these kids? Everyone started tagging them, or sending their Instagram (handle). I reached out and said, 'I would love to come and film, like, a video with you'.”

DJ Bliss then planned a trip to Uganda with his brother, who had been to the country earlier as well.

“I already had a song in mind; I played it to them (Triplets Ghetto Kids) and said, would you be able to dance to this song? And they said yes; that’s how the collaboration came about. It was kind of like, yalla, let’s go to Africa!”

He also dropped Hala Walla on October 24, an Afrobeat-reggae song whose BTS will be featured on a new reality show that DJ Bliss is a part of, Dubai Bling.

The artist is happy to have incorporated a “mix of cultures” in Hala Walla.

“It features Shaggy, who’s from Jamaica; we’ve got Daffy from Kuwait, and Flipperachi from Bahrain! Shaggy is a long-time friend of mine. I’ve known him for over 15 years, and we’ve always wanted to work on a track. Initially it was fully in English and then I thought, why not add an Arabic flavour to it. So we switched it up a little bit, mixed it with some Arabic. And even though the song has released, you will get to see the making of Hala Walla and its music video on Dubai Bling.”

DJ Bliss said doing a reality show was something that “came very naturally”.

“I have a history of being on TV and radio (That’s Entertainment, The Real Flava), so I’m aware of that. It’s different from TV and radio for sure, but I was also doing YouTube vlogging, so it’s kind of a mixture of both, you know? I like it because it’s reality TV; cameras are following you around and you’re able to just be yourself on the show. So for me, honestly, it was pretty great to be in that kind of situation.”

What were some of the challenges of being on reality TV?

He joked, “The only real challenge is my wife (vlogger Danya Mohammed AKA Diva Dee) is on there and it takes her a long time to get ready (laughs). But on the plus side, it was cool to be able to work together on something and I feel like it made us closer.”

DJ Bliss feels the world will get to know him “a lot better” through Dubai Bling. On what viewers can expect from the show, he said, “You’re going to get an insight into my life, which I haven’t necessarily posted on social media or talked about when I was on radio and TV. I think this is the first time you will really get a glimpse of who I am, what I do, and what life in Dubai is like.”

Dubai is synonymous with high-rises, big dreams and opulence but DJ Bliss feels there’s more to the city than meets the eye and hopes Dubai Bling (which releases October 27 on Netflix) alters some perceptions people have of Dubai.

“Hearing the name at first - Dubai Bling - you have an assumption of what the show is going to be like, but there’s more to it. Being in the music industry (in the UAE), we’ve always been used to importing DJs and artists and music. So my goal is to flip that around and travel the world more, do bigger shows and show the world that we have talent over here as well. Do concerts and big events - be the artists rather than host the artists.”

Regarding the UAE’s music and entertainment scene, DJ Bliss feels “it’s progressed tremendously” over the past decade or so and technology has largely to be thanked for this evolution.

“I think it’s kind of around the world - music has changed, styles and trends have changed, the way you are able to create content or music has changed. It’s a lot easier and a lot more accessible so it’s definitely helping a place like the UAE catch up on the music scene where before it was a lot harder; now any artist can make music, record it and put it out and distribute it right away. It could be online within a few days, and you’re listening to it. I could even go on to my Instagram and just post a song right now if I wanted to. So, the fact that we have that kind of access and technology I think is a gift for the generation."

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