Tuesday 06 March, 2012

The Deep Crates Cartel pushing boundaries in the Dubai underground scene

Deep Crates a part of UNIFUNK’s worlwide family and hosts to Dubai’s weekly dose of funky block party sounds with music spanning the best Funk, Hip Hop, Latin, Afro-beat, Reggae, Soul and block party beats and breaks! With free entry, insane visuals, unpretentious music and underground vibes, it’s definitely a movement contributing to Dubai’s growing […]

Deep Crates a part of UNIFUNK's worlwide family and hosts to Dubai's weekly dose of funky block party sounds with music spanning the best Funk, Hip Hop, Latin, Afro-beat, Reggae, Soul and block party beats and breaks! With free entry, insane visuals, unpretentious music and underground vibes, it's definitely a movement contributing to Dubai's growing underground scene. Unifunk spent a week in the region checking out local artists and DJ's and Deep Crates stood out due to it's uniqueness and positive message and aims.  Frezidente and El Lobito run the night and Unifunk were there enjoying the J-Dilla tribute night chatting to them about the scene in the region.

Wicked set Frezidente. How long have you been doing the night Deep Crates? F: Well, we've been doin the night for at least 4 months, it used to be called Freshly laced and me and Lobito carried it on with Deep Crates.

So what makes Deep Crates different from typical nights in Dubai? F: We play everything underground from Afro-beat to Hip-Hop, D&B, Jungle...

Is that different for Dubai? F: It's pretty unusual, there's not such a big following for this type of music, we have regular party people here though so it's all good. L: Yeah because it's really about the music, I've collected vinyl for over 15 years so the kinda people I work with and the crew, The Deep Crates Cartel, there's 6 of us putting on parties around town, playing the kinda music we want to hear.

So why's tonight dedicated to J-Dilla? L: This is the 2nd J-Dilla night we've put on actually.

 So where are you guys from? L: It's really mixed, my dad's from Spain, my mums from Zimbabwe, I studied Arabic so I speak fluently and I've been living in Dubai for 5 years on and off but now I'm permanently grounded here trying to support the underground scene. F: I'm from London, born in Beruit and I've been living in Dubai for 12 years

Over the years here, how have things changed in the underground scene? F: It's always been the same thing actually, back in the day you could find the odd night like Deep crates but usually people would be flown in especially for it, where as the difference now is that there are regular nights using local DJ's.  

What makes Deep Crates non-commercial? F: We don't play anything that gets played on the radio here, we play everything that has dust on it. We are also very cool about the dress code situation, you can come in wearing flip-flops, shorts, whatever, it's free entry, we got special offers on drinks, all this makes it underground in Dubai standards.  

So you guys aren't doing this for the money? F: Of course not, we're doing this strictly for the love L: Not at all, we do it for free we just wanted an out-let for what we do. You couldn't make a living out of this.

Is there anything you'd like to say about the future of Dubai's underground scene?  F: Most people go out in Dubai to be seen you know, but with our nights people purely come for the music and the dancing.  

Whats the story with the underground scene in Dubai in your opinion?  L: My experience here is that there are a lot of people into really really good music but the promoters here never want to take risks and they go for the easy options, you see that in a lot of countries but it's at an extreme level here in Dubai. Thats why you get a lot of commercial R&B and House DJ's here all the time. It makes me feel horrible! I'm a listener first and a DJ second, so if I don't have a place to go listen to good music then something has to change. Initially we set up a night called freshly laced but me and Frezidente continued with Deep Crates supporting real music.  

Lobito, I hear you're part of an even bigger, International crew, what's that about? L: That's right, I'm part of the original Hip-hop organisation which is commonly known as the first family of Hip-hop which is The Universal Zulu Nation, set up by the Godfather of hip-hop culture, Afrika Bombata. So I represent his organisation out here. It's all about empowering youth and promoting positivity and trying to breakdown this negativity associated with hip-hop and bring back the fun back into it and show people the diversity of the music and that it's not all about gang culture and bitches and hoes and pimps, going to flash clubs and flashing your money you know.

 So where did your love for hip-hop come from? L: Through the music, I was a b-boy for a while but soon realised I was a much better DJ than a B-boy so I started DJ'ing a lot more. I was listening to everything in the beginning, but what I realised with hip-hop is that it was a lot more than lyrics and beats but it was more about this huge amount of music thats being sampled and the carrying on of tradition and reviving a lot of old songs that maybe people would've forgotten about and the whole sampling culture is based on. F: Back in the day, my dad was a musician in Beruit playing mostly soul, funk singer. When I moved to london, the transition naturally was to Hip-Hop. I make beats too.

Are peoples attitudes changing towards the underground scene in the UAE? L: I think they are, somebody much wiser than me once said that “things move in cycles” I'm a strong believer in that. I've been in this scene for a long time and it has it's highs and lows but it always comes back. In Dubai the scene is growing, there are a couple of radio stations starting to support this music like channel 4, a DJ called Martin Metcalf who does the Big Love Sound system and Thursdays/Fridays you can check out General Public and Master Lao also supporting and they are all part of The Deep crates Cartel.  

So how did you and Frezidente get to be working together? L: Well you know, he's an artists, we connected through his graffiti and discovered he also is into the real hip-hop culture similarly to me.  

Do you produce your own stuff and where can we hear it? L: Defiantly, I don't want to boast but I've recently been included in the top 5 DJ's of my style worldwide which is original b-boy break DJ and get to play internationally at major B-Boy and breakdance festivals like the Red Bull events. In Korea breaking is huge, I mean there are 2 TV channels dedicated to it funded by the government and in Dubai there's going to be the R16 competition where local and Europeans will compete and then the winners get to go to Korea. That's in May this year.


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