Emirati Born Rapper Freek Is About To Level Up

20 February 2020
Music, Rapper, Emirati, Arab, Freek
ITP Images

From performing at Sole DXB and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to bathing in Laban Up, Freek is one to watch

Do you ever feel as if there simply aren’t enough hours in the day? If only you had more time, you think on your way to work, you could halve your golf handicap, write that business plan, work on that podcast proposal you’ve been sitting on.

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As we’re sure you can imagine, the rapper, former Sharjah footballer, UAE X-Games skateboarding representative, comedian, actor, professional videographer and ‘Arabic drill’ pioneer, Freek, has no such feelings.

Coat, $2930, Dolce&Gabbana

But fresh off ‘pinch yourself’ 2019 performances at Sole DXB and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it’s his guise as a rapper that finds him racking up YouTube views, working with a slew of international producers and drawing crowds as far afield as London.

His beats, the result of a youth spent listening to Korn and Slipknot, are heavy, and his keen eye for visual and cultural reference points mean tracks like “Wadha” and “Laban Up”, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Laban, cut through the noise.

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Indeed, his video for the latter saw him submerged in a bath full of the sweet yoghurt drink, surrounded by discarded cartons. “Laban was a tradition for us growing up. Everyone used to drink it when we were kids so for me to be laying around in it represents me growing up.”

Born and raised in the UAE to Somali parents, Freek, real name Mustafa Ismail, looks on the outside like one of those people who finds life effortless. He didn’t start skateboarding until he was 17. He’s a professional videographer but he’s self-taught. And now his unique Trap sound has taken him from selling tickets at the box office of the Yas Marina stadium, to performing there during the 2019 Grand Prix weekend. Freek though, thinks there’s something else going on.

T-shirt, $585, belt bag, $640, trousers, $1225, sneakers, $900, Dolce&Gabbana

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“I get addicted to things I like.” He says. “I don’t know if it’s an advantage or a disadvantage but most of the time I keep myself busy.”

But there’s busy, and then there’s busy. We point out that perhaps he falls into the latter camp.

“Yeah, I wasn’t that guy who used to waste time a lot. I never used to go out and my friends hated it in the beginning.”

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Like true friends do though, they eventually came to understand why he was working so hard. The career of a wild polymath doesn’t create itself, after all. And, unlike other creatures of addiction, Freek’s vices look set to continue delivering the goods.

Photography: Efraim Evidor

Styling: Rusty Beukes