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We had the pleasure of interviewing “ Illmiyah “ one of UAE’s top rapper / producer and a member of the highly successful Middle East hip hop duo “Desert East “.We caught up with the Emirati rapper to find out more about the concept and story behind his debut solo album, Stereotyped released on the 2nd of December 2012 ,UAE’s National Day .Illmiyah talks about the ups and downs , struggles and “Stereotypes ” about being a rapper from the Middle East .

“Illmiyah ” is a member of a hip hop group called ” Desert Heat ” alongside his brother “Arableak” which was Formed in late 2002. The two Emirati brothers, Illmiyah and Arableak, who share the goal of being the first genuine Arabian voice for the Middle Eastern youth. Desert Heat primarily rap in English, but the majority of their songs contain some Arabic literature.

TWD : Hello Illmiyah, how you doing today?

ILLMIYAH :I’m good Alhamdulillah. Thank full for everything.

TWD :”The Weekly Diary” would like to know what you been up to this week?

ILLMIYAH : Well, I’ve been busy working on new music for both Tiny as well as Desert Heat’s next album. I’m also working on an acoustic version of some of the songs from my debut Album ‘Stereotyped’. So a very busy schedule.

TWD : Now you dropped your most recent video “Falcon”, your first single off your solo album “Stereotyped, “. Love the track, video concept everything tell us more about the idea & concept behind the track “Falcon “

ILLMIYAH : From the beginning, our idea was to make something artistic and showcase Arabia in a modern way but also make our traditional gear and customs look cool! My team and especially my manager went to great lengths to make sure all the little details and props were authentic.

The Falcon is a bird which symbolizes the hunter spirit and also one that can see from high up and swoop down and destroy its preys, hence referencing rats and snakes. So yes I Am a Falcon watching from high above, so I can see the finish line and the bigger picture better than people on the ground.

TWD : Stereotyped is your current solo album; tell us more about the story and the making of this album?

ILLMIYAH : The Album initially was supposed to be Desert Heat’s 2nd Album. I kept recording and making songs with different concepts, while my brother would come through to the studio sometimes and lay some verses.

The more I recorded the more I realized my strengths and started concentrating on it more. I knew I could speak from personal experiences of all the difficulties I went through and also speak about the world and humans from my point of view.

In my family I read the most books and also questioned everything I read, so I wanted people to listen to the album and ask questions. Questions about their race, religion etc, By asking question we understand and start empathizing with people from different backgrounds and circumstances.

TWD : What are the challenges you face being a rapper from the Middle East?

ILLMIYAH : In my opinion, the majority of the Middle East suffers from a deeply rooted inferiority complex that only a few Arab States have broken away from in some way. We still have this fear that we can never be better than the west in anything. Subconsciously we feel we are inferior, that’s why we don’t lead in sports or arts anymore. I can go all day about it but bottom line is we should challenge and break free from these mental chains that cast us within a certain stereotype.

When I was recording the album I kept telling myself that if the Grammy Committee hears this album they will nominate me and InshAllah win a Grammy. That’s what I was aiming for, I wasn’t concerned with the other stuff. To me music is my art and Desert Heat created a new lane and we want to finish the road to glory to prove to the world that the best can come out from anywhere.


TWD : What’s the best experience you’ve had in your career?

ILLMIYAH : The best experiences come from reading emails and messages from fans from around the world whose lives were changed drastically after hearing our music. People who’ve reconnected with their families after listening to songs like “Under Her Feet”, US military soldiers who left the army because our music helped them understand the Arab & Muslim struggle from our point of view and that not all Muslims are terrorists!

TWD : What’s it like working with your brother?

ILLMIYAH : My brother is very persistent in his approach. I record tracks and revisit them later to fix them up or rerecord some parts. My brother will work on one track until everything is perfect and he is satisfied then moves on to the next track. So it’s a challenge cause we have different recording styles. However, its this difference that makes it interesting as it makes me try to perfect it from the first sessions and for him to learn to step back and let a track “marinate” then come back to it with fresh energy the next session.

TWD : Your very passionate about what you rap about, the message you send out to your fans and try and get across .What’s the most important message you’ve talked about in your music?

ILLMIYAH : I have a song on my album called “My Message”. It is my version of how I see the world and how I try to make sense out of our existence and also a few truths that most of us find hard to admit. The message is that there are universal truths and universal evils that deep down we all know but seem to ignore just so we can satisfy our selfish selves. As a Muslim, I believe that the solution to everything is ‘Knowledge’. If we eliminate ignorance then we can move forward. The first word revealed in the Quran is “Read” so to me, that is pretty much the ultimate key to unlocking all truths.

TWD :What sets you apart from other rappers?

ILLMIYAH : Besides rapping in kandoora and leather sandals hahaha! Well I think my content is speaking to people who don’t know us from Arab and a Muslims point of view. If u wanted to know how the children in the ghettos of America are living you can pick up any album from the top rappers in the US. Now what if you as an English Hip Hop listener want to know what an Arab and Muslim is thinking, Who would you listen to? Yes Illmiyah!

Its like books, you need different stories that are interesting and also those that give you a different prospective of life. Plus I don’t curse, so no one will get offended and everyone can listen from 5 year olds to grandmas!

TWD : Tell us something we don’t know about Illmiyah and Desert Heat?

ILLMIYAH : I cook on a professional chef level and I grow my own chili plants.

Desert Heat, My original rap name was supposed to be “Arableak “ instead of Illmiyah and my brother (Arableak) was suppose to be “Young Prince”.

TWD : We in 2013 ,brand new year .What can we expect this year ? Any new projects?

ILLMIYAH : A lot of Albums will be dropping n 2013 its going to be nuts! 4 Albums…Tiny’s Debut, A compilation album, Desert Heat’s Album and an orchestral version of “Stereotyped”.

Also about 3 more videos from my Album ‘Stereotyped’ is the plan.

TWD : What was the best advice you’ve ever been given? And what advice would you give upcoming artists ?

ILLMIYAH : My dad always tells me to make sure you have a best ending, that is when you leave this world leave something that people can benefit from and by leaving something valuable for people to profit from you will leave a legacy for this world and a high place in the next world.

Upcoming artist, remember life is not a race it’s a Marathon. If u see success early than you need to use it to last a lifetime. If you see it at the end then that’s your reward for being consistent and never giving up! Plan, focus and execute.

TWD : Thank you for the lovely interview.

ILLMIYAH : Shukran to you too, I enjoyed this interview a lot and it was one of my favorite ones I have done so far!

Illmiyah’s ‘Stereotyped’ album is now available in all Virgin Mega Stores! You can also buy your digital copy available now at Amazon & itunes stores.

Watch ‘Falcon’ Music Video here:

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  1. Low Self Esteem (LSE)

    January 13, 2013 at 12:34 am

    I think you have a tremendous site. Thanks a lot
    for publishing.

  2. illmiyah

    January 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you again for your amazing support

    • shmadee

      January 23, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      Your welcome and Thank You ! For the amazing interview 🙂

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