Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and Arabesque a.k.a. Aramaic. Regardless of the sun and moons positioning in the sky they eventually have their period of influence. This also applies to the cock-and-bull stories used to conceal rapper Arabesque, good music always manages to make public. I can’t blame the entertainment industry for trying to keep mum this young brother, think about it, he contradicts all the stereotypes. You got this young educated Toronto born Palestinian making an emergence through one of pop cultures strongest mediums, a well-defined threat. His material is considered saleable savage, with heavy rotation on commercial call letters and underground approved. Political angst, witty commentary and soulful intonation make Arabesque the next in line. Recently signing to UK label Sin Nombre, he preps his summer debut “The Frenzy of Renown”.
Sitting down with Big Besque, I noted something very interesting, I noticed that he has it all figured out. I’m not sure if it was his experience in the music game, the crushing death of his girlfriend or his obsession with the “Conversation with God” series, but he knows. Rarely do you come across people in the know, people who use their native capacities to the greatest extent.
How does it feel to be Arabesque these days?
Like wet socks.
Lets talk about your style, where do you get that Sly Stone vocal grit? How big is the soul influence in your music?
Soul music summons my essence. They say when you sleep the soul is liberated from the body, but dusty 70’s rhythm and blues vocals has got my soul eating Pinto Beans With Ham Hocks in the south. Wish I could sing though, they get better groupies. A nice change up from the typical rapper groupie, Katelyn with the straight brim fitted and brothers old Starter jacket. Just kidding.
You were recently put in the National Arab American Museum out in Michigan. How does being of Middle Eastern descent play a role in your music? Jin is the Asian rapper, Jojo Pallegrino is the Italian rapper, is Arabesque the Arab Rapper?
And Joe C is the midget rapper, who cares. It’s strictly an element of my experience. For non-Arabs to identify with my music is really important. I try to escape the pigeonholed of nationalism, so a greater number can feel and relate to me. I don’t need to be a woman in order to understand the feminist critique, just like you don’t need to be an Arab to identify with Arabesque. Its all relative, people are shocked to see a Palestinian in the game, Arabs are shocked to see a Christian Palestinian. It’s a lose-lose situation (laughs).
“…I have a fascination with the UK’s music scene. They make music that’s imperfectly perfect, ya nah mean…”
Tell me about your decision to sign in the UK oppose to the US or Canada.
I have a fascination with the UK’s music scene. They make music that’s imperfectly perfect, ya nah mean. They don’t stick to formulas the way the US does. American urban music is very to the books, music being generated out of London has no confines. If you’re hungry looking for good cuisine, you don’t go to England. If you’re a female seeking equal opportunity you don’t situate in Saudi Arabia. The same way an urban artist wouldn’t sign a record deal in Canada. Signing with Sin Nombre just seemed like the obvious thing to do.
While doing research on you, I spoke to various sources for info and they all thought you were from NYC. Why don’t you make it a point to associate yourself with Toronto, and what do you find the problem is with Canadian hip hop?
I don’t have time to go out of my way to correct deceived minds about where I’m from. I’m 23 years old, repping my hood was cool when I was 16. I think it’s tuff to say there is something wrong with all of Canada’s hip hop, because that’s not true. But, there is nothing really striking about it. I think hip hop is the only genre where cats make music about music. Add some break dancers in every single video talk about your microphone, that’s the typical purist scene. Shit is real boring to me.
A lot of your music is very expressive, for example, detailed accounts of the death of your girlfriend. How important is it to you that you let people in on your experiences?
I think its imperative I make a connection with the audience. I’m not a robot like these other fucks, I feel pain like everyone else. Where’s the value in ornamental rap? How can you make a sale if nobody gives a rats ass about your story. Everyone has one, tell it. That period in my life was upsetting as shit, for me not to talk about it would be robbing the audience of Arabesque the composition.
Arabesque prepares to shoot his second video “Stardust” with director Marc André Debruyne. The debut album, “The Frenzy of Renown”, is slated for release summer 2005 worldwide. Look out for Besque on tour throughout the US and Europe.
– Gloria Monihan