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  • Writer's pictureMajid Alhusseini

Bringing Concepts To Life With Maff The Concept

Asbati Bashir aka Maff is a Nigerian-Jamaican Music Producer/Songwriter/Recording Artist, from the UK, raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. which is where he started making music. Inspired by the likes of J Dilla,DMX and Nelly, he started writing music at 13. A few years later, he went on to work with Jeddah based Hip Hop group "J Fam" as a writer and producer. He is a Music Technology Graduate and has his own clothing brand called "DiceXDominos ".

How was it growing up as an artist in the KSA?

It was a challenge. All we had to get any essence of culture that is not Saudi were things like TV,Documentaries,Albums etc. In terms of being a rapper or Producer for example. The regularity of events that would need different genres of music to be played, performed  or enjoyed wasn't needed at the time because, the way Saudi the society ran was different. A club for example would be a regular hang out area in western society where as in Saudi it is not. Therefore, Open mics, rap battles, Cyphers and performances were not something you knew about by the greater majority, unlike with how Hip Hop/Rap was in The USA or with how Grime was in the United Kingdom. And when events like that did happen, they were all low key and if the authorities knew about them, it could turn into a situation where attendees and participants could and sometimes would have got arrested. So we would have to search the information ourselves and find out how things worked without much help or direction! Personally I took a liking to writing styles of freestyle from rappers out off Philadelphia and studied them,which then lead to me studying other musicians music and techniques. I'd say being in Saudi rather than being in the West (the UK, The USA,Canada etc) gave me the advantage of Not having a "home town bias" because I didn't live in any of the places where a scene was active at the time. I'm in Saudi across the planet, So regional representation didn't apply to me. What did apply to me however, was how other English speaking musicians harnessed their techniques. Which they would have got from their specific area . As people from different areas have their own style production and or rap. With Saudi being the number one export of oil and America being the number 1 buyer of oil. Lots of products in Saudi are American. The cars, the building lay outs and road set up. Even the education system leans more towards the American system, and the American accent is the more Dominant accent spoken there. Also if you're expat kid like I was you might have mixed with a lot of other expat kids (kids from America, Canada, The UK, South Africa) etc.

What is the most meaningful music project you had so far and why?

Well IV had 21 releases, majority of them Instrumental tapes with 4 of them being rap projects. My most meaningful project would have to be between  (Klouds/waterfalls I, Klouds/Waterfalls-ii and Interpretation [Rap.EP]). Because of how they came about but for the question I'd say (Klouds/Waterfalls II) though(Klouds/Waterfalls I) is also special. (Klouds/waterfalls ii)  happened when I was in my second year at the University of East London. I was making beats for this project at that time while looking for a place to rent at the time. I had found a place online n went to hand in my rent n deposit. The very next day I was making the first beat on (Klouds/Waterfalls II) and the second beat on that tape. When a couple came to my door and asked why they couldn't get in their building. I was like "what do you mean yours, this is (person I gave the rent n deposit too's) place". Throughout speaking to them, I came to realize that it was a real situation and we had been scammed out of nearly 1K each, authorities were called. I was making beats out of Hotels while looking for a place to rent out for Uni. Then it happened, in the middle of my beat making session on a (either a Monday or Tuesday). It was my day off from University, when that happened I felt like "Breh, like can't I catch a break, damn"Every time I hear that tape, it takes me back to that space of me being determined and nothing holding me back in East London. Especially the first beat on that tape..."Cold Summer Nights". Because the whole tape apart from maybe one beat was not made in one location..just me, my laptop and the city of London. 

Tell us about your brand?

I have more than one but the one, I'm going to talk about "DiceXDominos". I made the logo (had drawn for me) when I was 17 going back and forth between the UK at the time. What we do is merge Visual Art & with either recording artists or spoken word poets (Of my affiliates) to come up with conceptual Art which is later placed on apparel and products. The visual artists however can be any one who isn't affiliated granted that we like their work. The Name was a derivative of my own concept. Concept of "Ying and Yang ". With a little Islamic twist (but not limited to). The "Dice" and the "Domino" represent the kind of people or personalities that are around as they are both pieces that belong to a game . The Dice represents gamble, risk and chance. Nothing is for sure with the dice. It represents recklessness in the game. The Domino is a game pieces that involves rules,procedures and a pattern in the game that its used for. The Islamic twist comes in because there is a lot of speculation about the use of "Dice" and that because of its nature being a game of chance and gamble.Gambling isn't accepted in Islam. And, I myself coming from a multi-religious  family, I wanted to cater to my own self and people of similar like backgrounds as well as those who are not!  A question that will be on some of the new clothing is "If life is just a Game, which are you?"The inspiration behind the concept was the Quranic chapter Surah Al Anaam. Sahil: "And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion". For now though, we are working as a network agency connecting our self's and other people on an international basis for projects that may involve us or connecting people and clientele to people they might need for their present or future projects. Until we are full effect in our clothing distribution and Photo shoots dates.  All collaboration of our own clothing will be sold and displayed in Music videos and Adds.  Which we aim to keep on online platforms rather than TV, but if presented a beneficial offer we can come to some agreement. 

What kind of impact would you like to have through the music and brand?

My music and brand are two things I like to keep separate .Their impacts would be different. However l will speak about impact. Iv'e never made anything for a particular sound or audience, for example, some artists make "Club Music". I never ever till this day have done that which I'm realizing now may have been a bit of a mistake. It goes back into how I started making music. The only reason I even got into music was because I wanted a clothing line. I watched a lot music videos as a kid. What I liked about most of them, was the clothing that they wore, I had made my first baseball Jersey at 13, got the materials and all and took'em to the Taylor n had it made. I already had many designs written down so it came to me. " well I've got the designs now,how do I get people to see them? Oh I gotta make music videos, well I gotta be a rapper now". And it's been a long pursuit of bettering myself by learning and experimenting rather just being a rapper, I got into music, Tech and learned how to produce because I had later joined "The Jeddah fam" a music group based in Saudi 2007. At the time I wanted to be more of a help to the crew than just a writer. But since leaving the musical side of the team later and graduating From University, I've been in a bit of Limbo to be honest. Musically speaking that is. Brand wise for "DiceXDominos" I want it to connect people and have their work be shown and displayed advertised with everyone being credited and paid too. The idea behind the brand was, I want to be a God sent for all the everyday artists or illustrators to get their work out there, seen and appreciated. Also for creatives who can't draw connect with those who can. I want It to be a very artsy kinda network Hub that also has products. Musically though..this is where it gets deep. Influence is something that Iv'e always had. When I speak to or about something, people listen, even if they don't agree or don't Want to hear what I'm saying. I realized that I can make an effect on someone. The most powerful person to a king is his adviser. I want to stay true to my self and my experience "No gang shit on the beat if I send it to you". To give you the short answer, I want positive impact more than a negative one. Where I live it's nothing like Chicago,Illinois but music can most definitely be a tool used to instigate situations. Stabbings happen there in UK because of it.Shootings happen in the USA because of it. Rather than divide people with music.I'd rather it join people together. (I don't know if it will happen, God knows) but I'd like many people from different areas, countries and places to feel like they're in one place or that they're the same, that they're geographic distance doesn't make them feel less relatable or feel distant. I'd say where ever I go, I'd want my music andd my genuine conduct to make the locals there feel as though I was one of them and I reciprocate that to them. Outta ego or just the height that I want for myself, my father always told me "Do your best" &"whatever you do,be successful at it". So in that case I want be "Sean Carter" &"Master P" for Stoke On Trent . I want to be the "Diddy" & "Nipsey" of Jeddah. A Dark Skinned Drake. My boy KSHR said he wanted Impact the same as "Outkast" at the source awards, that too. Just for my uniqueness. It's a lot to ask and work for but..when goals are set high it easy to get disheartened, but because I make music I can..not for others. I think that's why I didn't give up. Making music is like reading, u can't forget it. 

Maff's Advice For You:

My advice would be, money is necessary but u don't always need it. Networking is more valuable. Your goal shouldn't be to get things done for free,but that doesn't mean  u can't get them for free or work for work etc. Get it however u can and if u don't stop,something along the way will help. 

"If we don't know where we've been, we will never know where we're going " - Malik Yoba

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