Wiz Khalifa and Tinie Tempah are the biggest hip-hop acts to hit the UAE this year. Saeed Saeed explains what all the fuss is about ahead of Friday's show.
Why we are excited
Because both hip-hop performers are from the 21st century. With the exception of Snoop Dogg's mega-performance at Yas Island in May 2011, the UAE has been a graveyard for washed-up hip-hop stars who appear to be using gigs here to top up their pension funds.
In the past few years, we witnessed tours from faded urban artists including Coolio, Vanilla Ice, Salt-n-Pepa, Soul for Real and most recently Soul II Soul. While we are not dissing people who like their ol'school, it is good to see promoters bringing out artists whose albums were not limited to cassettes.
Wiz Khalifa is …
He is hip-hop's young star of the moment. Indeed the 24-year-old Pittsburgh rapper - real name Cameron Thomaz - believes it himself, hence his stage name Khalifa, which means successor in Arabic.
After a few years generating heat on the US underground hip-hop scene, he hit pay dirt with last year's album Rolling Papers. The catchy single Black and Yellow - a reference to the colours worn by Pittsburgh sport teams - became a global hit. However, Rolling Papers reveals there is more to Khalifa than party anthems. While the lyrics are nothing to brag about, Khalifa's album is heavy on mood and he is a charming presence throughout. His smooth croon, heard on such tracks as On My Level, allows him to deliver pop hooks by himself.
… and Tinie Tempah?
The 23-year-old London rapper is becoming a regular visitor to our shores. He performed club shows in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2010 before returning last year to Abu Dhabi as part of the electronic festival Creamfields on Yas Island.
His 2010 debut album Disc-Overy was a major success worldwide and is home to the hits Pass Out, Frisky and Miami 2 Ibiza. Tempah's success is notable in that he managed to break into the European and American markets, proving British hip-hop can cross borders.
With a new album in the works, perhaps we will be lucky enough to hear some new material.
Did you say David Vendetta?
Spinning tunes between sets will be the French house producer David Vendetta, whose career really took off when the popular American house DJ Roger Sanchez enlisted him to remix a few of his tracks.
Vendetta also managed to come up with his own hits with Love To Love You Baby (featuring a Donna Summer sample) and Unidos Para la Musica both cracking the Top 20 of the French charts. He's not to be confused with David Guetta, the French house producer and DJ who came to Abu Dhabi last year and has worked with just about everyone.
How to prepare
Start bumping Rolling Papers and Disc-Overy. In a way, both albums make a good pair. Begin your morning drive with Tinie Tempah's electro-driven beats and energetic flow, then finish the day off with Khalifa's smooth drawl. After a trip such as that you will be more than ready for tomorrow's performance.
Also, remember to stay well hydrated, as it could well be another muggy night. The experience will also serve as good physical training for those seeing Madonna the week after.
Tomorrow, Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, 7pm. Tickets range from Dh295 to Dh450 and are available from www.timeouttickets.com