Meet Dubai's next big thing. After turning down offers from record labels around the world, Diligent Thought are set to hit the big time on home ground

They don't sing about riding in a Mercedes (yet), they're not weighed down with gold or dripping in diamonds (yet) and they certainly don't come across as anywhere near controversial (yet). In fact quite the opposite, Diligent Thought do exactly as what they're name states they're hardworking thinkers (with a passion for hip hip thrown into
the mix).

As long-associated negative stereotypes contribute to a decline in hip hop music sales, the four members of Diligent Thought claim the genre needs a change for the better.

A conscious decision to be more"real", the Dubai-based group bring a welcome relief to lovers of true hip hop, tired of hearing the prevailing lacklustre gangster rap."

Controversial subject matter, including lyrics about drugs, violence and money helped make hip hop popular around the world but we thought it was about time to stop taking it all so seriously and instead have fun with it," said Ameer Esmail, 24, better known as Sol-Phonic the beat master.

Diligent Thought is Dubai-born Esmail, of Sudanese descent, 24-year-old Irshad Azeez from Sri Lanka, Neil Andrew, 29, from the UK, who has lived in Dubai for five years, and Feras Ebrahim, 24, of Sudanese origin but raised in the UAE.

“If you thought the genre was all about bling, booty and bad language then think again," Esmail says."We sing about everyday things which we have experienced and try to
keep the lyrics as identifiable as possible."

“I don't own a Mercedes so why would I sing about one?" Andrew cut in."Well, I don't own one yet anyway."

Decide for yourself

Set to perform tonight at the Irish Village, and at Club Alpha, Airport Meridien, on August 12, Diligent Thought are the latest talent to hit the Dubai music scene and will be showcasing their raw blend of “real" hip hop.

“As our name suggests, we will showcase our penchant for cerebral ramblings and pure word-play, paying homage to hip hop's golden days while at the same time trying to
inspire a positive future for the genre as a whole," said Andrew who is better known around town as DJ Solo.

Formed in the spring of 2007, Esmail recalls how it all began for the group, which consists of two MCs and two beat makers.

“I have always rapped and would encourage Irshad, whose band name is Jibberish, to have a go too. He did, and let's just say I encouraged him to keep working on it. But a
year later he called me up and rapped down the phone and I couldn't believe it. He was great and I knew we should try and do something with it. I then met Neil and we had heard Feras', or Toofless', name around town and snapped him up."

So Diligent Thought was formed and the group hit the recording studio in Dubai to record their first song.
Success was unexpected and almost not believed in the beginning as the band"played around" with mixes and lyrics to produce a unique blend of music, suitable for the
whole world including Dubai.

“We were having fun but I don't think any of us thought we would get this far," said Andrew."We put our music online and immediately had interest from labels in the UK and
Canada. But we knew we wanted to stay in Dubai and decided to turn the offers down. That was the first point we realised we could really make something of this."

Tonight, fans can expect a seamless medley of Diligent Thought original material, mixed with hip hop classics and old skool party breaks.

Using old funk and jazz samples as a canvas for their lyrics, the group's subject matter switches between light hearted and serious, introvert and extrovert.

Azeez said:"Throw our CD into your stereo and from start to finish it has to be like you're spending a couple of hours hanging out with old friends. You could sit and talk, share ideas and feelings, lounge around and have a laugh or just take a drive around. It's real music for real people complex and colourful and at the same time very simple, very human."
Although a Dubai based band, Diligent's sound is undeniably as global as their outlook. The group is being billed as the"ones to watch" in 2008 and their first album, Lyricalligraphy, features vocals from a few famous local faces including Hamdan and Rami of Abri fame.

Perfectionists to the end, Esmail said one track can sometimes take weeks to perfect.

“I can easily get a beat written and produced in a day but the full process is much more time consuming. The beat is just a base and then come lyrics and backing, rapping, vocals, and endless layers on top. We actually ended up having a pretty big bust up about how to work the Abri vocals into our track. We are learning as we go but having a great time along the way."

With an MTV video release planned later in the year, the group is currently focusing on further live shows where audiences have the opportunity to see the lyricists and beat
makers at their most innovative, breathing new air into what has become an all too clichéd genre.

What is hip hop?

The term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Cowboy, along with DJ Hollywood used the term when the music
was still known as disco rap. It is believed that Cowboy created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the US Army, by scat singing the words"hip/hop/hip/hop"
in a way which mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers.


Excluding the band, what are you trained to do?

Esmail: Studying journalism
Azeez: Degree in IT
Andrew: Degree in interior design
Ebrahim: Works for a finance company

Pick a superpower?

Esmail: Invisibility
Azeez: Stop time
Andrew: Fly
Ebrahim: Read people's minds

Flight away right now

Esmail: Japan
Azeez: Somewhere cold
Andrew: Easter Island
Ebrahim: A tiny island