Since then he’s gone on to become something of a household name, winning multiple awards and selling 46 million albums worldwide, 10 of which have either gone on to become diamond, platinum and gold.
In Dubai last Saturday to perform a special gig at Cavalli Club, we caught up with the ‘King of Rai’ to talk fusion music and why there’s no chance he’ll be able to record a song with his dream collaborator...
Where was your favourite gig of all time?
My music is universal. My favourite place is on stage with the public in front of me. It is always a pleasure to share my music all over the world. My most unusual concert however, was in South Africa for the World Cup . It was a wonderful event.
What is it like when you return home to perform?
It’s wonderful to come back home and to see my family.
You’re popular with so many people - not just the Arabic music crowd. Why do you think you have such mass appeal?
Well, crossbreeding is always better. I have also worked with a lot of Arabic artists who were in the same state of spirit that
I am, which is to bring the music where it is least expected.
You’ve worked with many different artists. Who has been your favourite and who would you most like to work with?
With every artist I have worked with, it has always been a very interesting exchange - for example, with Santana or Quincy Jones. However, I’ve always wanted
to work with Michael Jackson and it’s a shame that I didn’t have the chance to meet him.
You started making music when you were young. What was your early music like?
My first music was a mix of jazz, blues and Arabic folklore. I started young because music was my passion.
Were your parents happy when you said you wanted to follow a career as a musician?
No because for them, that wasn’t a job. However it was my passion so I continued.
Tell us about your new song ‘C’est La Vie’?
It is a message of hope. I sing about the joy of living, love and peace.
How does it feel to have the prestigious title of King of Rai?
It was hard at the beginning to make this music accepted just in my country so I am proud that this music has spread across the boundaries. So, yes I am proud to be the leader of the Rai. I can express joy, love and peace around the world.Are you a fan of the King of Rai? Please share with us your comments below.