With one foot in Saudi and the other in the Midlands, Guestlist met with rising hip-hop star Maff The Concept:
In three words sum up your mentality.
I'd say raw, conscious and untamed (as of now)
Originally you are from Saudi Arabia, tell us about how you got started in music?
Actually, originally I'm from the UK but I moved to Saudi Arabia at a young age. A lot of people assume I am Saudi but I'm actually from the Midlands. Saudi has played a major role in my life as I started music there.
I started first by seeing a friend of mine named ''Majic'' who's also a rapper now write a verse infront of me. I thought it was weird at first but he was my boy so I was like ''iight whatever'' then I saw friend of mine show me how to record at home. I wasn’t writing or anything at the time but after I knew you could record I started, I was like 13 making songs on Mixcraft at 15/16 I met JFAM. JFAM was a music collective in Saudi which I joined in 2008 and then later left to make ''The 4't Knx'' my own music group.
How has music positively affected your life?
I'd say a crazy amount. Like hella. Music can influence you to do things and it can also stop you from doing things. I think there is a place for all kinds of music because there are all kinds of emotions.
Music for the most part kept me out of trouble because making beats wasn’t easy when your competing with the whole world . So while some others were getting in trouble, I didnt care about that. For me being outside in the rain hustling wasnt going to help my production or pen game. I've never been clinically depressed but I can tell you music can really block out a lot of negativity.
Could you tell us about your ‘Poverty Tunes’ project?
Poverty tunes was a movent my friend #KosherAbz made, who then later wanted to drop the movement as a whole. I made a student society at Staffordshire University so that students could use all my instrumental EP's at www.mafftheconcept.bandcamp.com for their own music, videos or events that they have running. I was also running a radio show called ''Poverty Tunes Radio'' at Staffordshire Universities ''OMG/One Media Group'' where I played music from music I collected from people all over the world that I listen to www.omgstaffs.com/listen.
How can people get involved?
Well really just download my music all the instrumentals i've provided on mine and the individual members of the ''4't Knx'' bandcamp page. Either sing or rap on them. If we like it, we will repost it and cosign your work.
There has been a lot of talk about Dice X Dominos. What is that?
Dice X Dominos is my clothing brand where I have artists and illustrators draw out conceptual images I have. I have over 100 designs written down. The Dice X Domino concept is my own version of the Ying-Yang concept. Where the dice represents a game of chance, a gamble, recklessness. The domino represents a game of structure, of system and rules. So which are you?
A deeper meaning for it comes from my background of being Muslim, though you wouldn't guess so from my music or videos. It means Dunya X Deen, the ''Dunya'' which is the ''Dice'' is the world we live in. 'Dunya' can be used a synonym for ''the World''. The ''Deen'' is the ''Way of life'' in which we can conduct ourselfs in the reckless world we live in the 'Dunya'. The T-Shirt you've seen in my recent music video ''Thats For The Hate'' Produced by one of my 4'tknx members ''ghstwn Instrumentals'' is the only time I showed this T-shirt though, it is the only one you will see for a while. This is one of many designs and the person who drew it for me is @sameepanda.
What are some of the biggest challenges you as a musician faced?
I don’t think I've gotten that far in my career to really say I've faced big challenges yet, but there are some that I and other producers or musicians should be aware of. Fake supporters and fake music friends, people that want to expoit your talent. There are also people who say they want to work or make music but are never come to the studio. If you're in a relationship, video girls might be an issue too haha. Also people you give a beat to, they sit on it for however long and then say they dont want to use it. Depending on where you are, you might have to face the ''wana be thugs who rap about their incrimination''. I tell people before they wana work 'don't incriminate yourself on my beat'.
Once I was at a studio where the people were 'trying' to make contracts. I told them straight out 'no I'm not gonna sign that'. I think nowadays being called a ''Rapper'' has a negative image and that's kinda why I picked up production, because I didn't want to be just a writer/rapper, so learning how to produce was a challenge.
Do you feel that up and coming artists get enough respect?
I think respect is the easiest thing to get. I don’t think upcoming artists get enough of a means to get paid for their talents.
Who would you say are your biggest influences when making the music that you do?
My drive or goal. I make music depending on the state that im feeling or a goal that I'm reaching. Making and listening to good music influences me but music alone isn't enough. Honestly it's your whole mental diet. The things you watch, the things you eat, the conversations you have. For me sometimes I try and imagine a scene or landscape of some sort when I make music. I try and build a lil world within that instrumental.
When I write however its very different. I kinda let the words work their way to a sentence, sounds crazy I know. Artist wise I'd say as a writer 'Cassidy, Reed Dollaz, Papoose, Skyzoo, Lupe Fiasco, Nas, AZ' were my beginning influences and production wise would be 'J.Dilla, 9th Wonder, DJ Khalil, Jaisu, Beats by Esta, Nefarious, Clams Casino' and the list goes on really.
What artist would you love to work with?
See Ab Soul is an artist I would like to work with because I like people who talk their perspective. I might not agree with everything but it would be interesting. Thats an artist I would like to rap with. Sean Price also woulda been someone cool to rap with (RIP). SZA, Kanye West, MF Doom, Drake, Maxo Kream, Snoop, Raider Klan, Pro Era, Pouya and more.
As a Produce for however, I'd work with anyone who likes my production ,wants to shoot a video which im going to cameo in and cut a check really.
What was the first song you listened to today?
I'ts funny because today, the day I'm answering the question, I woke up and just got busy. I didn't have time to listen to a song nor did it cross my mind. But for old time sake im going to say 'Robb Bank$ - 3D'.
We know that you produce a lot of tracks. Do you prefer producing or spitting?
I have mood swings but Id say writing is easier for me because its what I started with but chopping samples for beats is a hobby for me.
I take a full day out and just sit down to chop samples which I may not use till weeks later. Id say its a 50/50 really.
Where do you want your music to take you?
At first I wanted my music to get me respect, which I have got. Now its more of what assets can I make out of this. I do want a nice amount of wealth but thats not all I want from it. I want to travel and see places. Meet people, see cultures, different foods and all. I want it to take me all over the place and to different people too.
Your tunes are an observation of the world around you, what issues do you think need to be addressed?
Self love, self awareness, I feel that alot of us as people nowadays are broken people putting on mask. I feel that people need music.'
If you were the Prime Minister what would be the first law that you pass?
I'd make all cashiers at shops. Food places, even transportation being able to take different currencies and then give the buyer back their change in pounds. We need more money coming in so why not make it easier for those who visit to spend their money. I mean they're gonna spend the pounds we give back in the UK anyway right?
What are your future projects?
I have a couple projects lined up but I don't want to jinx them. I'm going to tell you about one spoken word EP & my 'Hybrid Kids' album, the project is a bit sentimental for me because the time I made the production for it was a defining moment in my life. I have a habit of piling up beats and lyrics for projects, telling people about them and keeping them waiting. So bare with me.