Smithsonian Institution (2022) 2022

FolkLIVE Concerts A View from the Streets: Urban Culture from the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is home to a distinctively cosmopolitan culture, and this show spotlights various elements of hip-hop as expressed in the UAE, long considered a global crossroads due to its geographical location and multicultural population. Featured performers include: Abu Dhabi-born Mustafa Ismail aka Freek, a sought-after pioneer of Arabic drill and trap-style rap. Maitha Al Suwaidi, Dorian “Paul D” Rogers, and Jaysus Zain, members of the Rooftop Rhythms poetry collective and stalwarts of the UAE’s rich spoken-word and hip-hop scenes. Fafa, one of the leading lights of the UAE independent music scene, who writes and sings soulful and emotionally open dance songs and ballads. NOON, whose transnational improvisations mix breakbeats and funk with North African oud. Polymath Philip Rachid, aka Soultrotter, who brings together leading b-girl Lana Ramadan and b-boy Zilla for dance breaks. Soultrotter’s performance will also feature live beat-making in a transmedia collaboration with digital “calligraffiti” artists Michael Ang, aka Mang and Diaa Allam, and visualist Tegan McDuffie. The evening culminates with Rachid’s visually striking and resonant documentary, It Ain’t Where You From, a portrait of the UAE’s underground street dance scene, which has been commissioned by The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi and the Shubbak Festival (London). This event is curated by Bill Bragin/The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi and is part of the Festival program United Arab Emirates: Living Landscape | Living Memory. Accessibility: Live real-time captioning and American Sign Language Interpretation are available for these programs.