When everyone steps right, trap artist Mustafa Esmail shimmies a little further to the left. The 27-year-old Somalian mixes Arabic with English rhymes underneath his stage moniker Freek, and travels down the path less trodden with a sound that’s both familiar and new to the Arab world. The up-and-coming performer, who recently released his bilingual single Wadha, tells Gulf News tabloid! how his journey began, and where he’s headed next.
How would you describe your musical style, for those who are just getting to know you?
I would like to call it the new generation Arabic Trap Hip Hop.
How did the Freek persona come about?
Freek is my [alter] ego. He speaks on behalf of a lot of people.
Tell us about your single Wadha. What’s the concept of the song, and what’s the concept of the music video?
Wadha means ‘it’s clear’ [in Arabic]. Through the music video, you will see a lot elements and it symbolises something. For example, you see me in the video laying down in a bathtub filled with Laban Up [a popular yoghurt drink]. When I used to be a kid, I used to like to drink Laban Up but I couldn’t afford a lot of it, and now I can have as much Laban Up as I want. In the next scene, [you] see me with a snake that symbolises the people [who] wanna put you down. Towards the end of the video, I’m on stage where I need to be.
Can you tell us about your reasons for using both Arabic and English when you rap?
I think it’s important for me to use Arabic in music because it adds value to my identity. If I rap only in English, what makes me different from people living in the States or Canada?
Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Born and raised in the UAE — Sharjah for half of [my] life and then moved to Abu Dhabi.
Did you come from a big family? Did anyone else in your family have an interest in music?
I have six siblings. My two sisters Maha and Manal love music. They are in a band called We Against Many.
When did you know you wanted to become a rap artist and a performer?
I always loved music but when I started listening to trap music I felt the beat started talking to me. I never thought Arabic trap would work, not until I gave it a shot in 2013 when I released the track Batali.
What are you working on now and what does 2018 have in store for you?
2018 is amazing so far. I have a new music video coming out on March 9, and on the same day I will be performing at Lock, Stock and Barrel in JBR. I will premiere the new music video there. Lots and lots of events happening — keep an eye [out] on my Instagram @freektv.