Although you may not have heard of Abbas Kubaff, aka Doobies, he is in fact, probably the biggest and most successful rapper on the island of Malta right now.
Ask the Kenya born rapper how long he has been rapping and he will tell you simply, “Forever, As old as I am.” But, more fittingly, as old as Kenyan rap music.
As it he, Abbas Kubaff, who launched rap in Kenya in the early 90’s. At a time when the genre was something entirely new to the country. He and his former group, K-South, which takes its name from Kariobangi South, the neighborhood where they grew up, first began by doing live performances where they would freestyle over local live bands. Adding what he called, their own “Hip-hop twist” to the music.
The group quickly rose to fame in Kenya and Africa as a whole, with their half Swahili, half English lyrics. Soon, he came a household name in the Kenyan music scene and today, he is considered one of the pioneers of the rap scene there.
Here at Underground Sound, we managed to find out all about his life, when we caught him at a home studio. Where we found him chilling out and recording a few tracks with fellow Malta based rapper, Fatz. Who we also posted on our page last weekend, you check her out here.
He explained to us how he has seen the scene in Kenya progress over time, growing and expanding to what is is now. The biggest and best-selling genre in the country. This is in no small part thanks to him, as his influence has shaped the scene into what it is today.
Abbaz has always lived and breathed rap music, explaining;
“I have always had music and art in me as far back as I can remember. Since I was banging the desk of primary school. It was just a matter of time for it to come out one day and yeah, look at me now! I don’t know what I would be if I wasn’t involved in rap, but I think I would be a spoken word artist of some sort. I think I was always meant to be an artist and since that’s a fact, I think I am what I’m supposed to be.”
However, he hasn’t always been where he is now and he started from very humble beginnings. He admits that when he started taking rap seriously, he just wanted to break away from the poverty that surrounded him. He told us that;
“Where I was brought up and where I was born and raised, things were really crazy. I had to do something artistic for myself to improve my situation, my living conditions and everything.”
However, he has come along way since then. He has released 6 Studio Albums and traveled so much he couldn’t say exactly how long he has been in Europe. What we do know, is he has been working and making music in Malta for the past year or so, and is set to release his latest album early next year. He claims he has been inspired by the island and talking about what brought him to Malta, he explained,
“I came here to visit with my family and then we decided to stay. It is just one of those vibes, very unpredictable and very random. Malta is really calm, it’s really chilled out. I like it as you can focus on what you want to do. It’s that kind of atmosphere, where I can go inside my own mind and become more creative.”
Speaking about the Underground sound over here, he is very supportive of the hip-hop movement in Malta.
“I like the underground rap scene here, because I meet people that I haven’t met before who are very interesting. They inspire me in different ways and to me, that it is really something good. I am a musician and I am an artist and so, I always look for inspiration where I can and Malta is one of those places!”
The latest album, which is yet to be titled, details his life from Kenya up to where he is now, and it promises to be the most exciting one yet. He has been working with Shaywoo Adams, who is well renowned music producer in Africa and so, its bodes very well for this next project.
He is also working on another project, with Fatz, which is also set for release very soon too and which Abbaz promises will be, simply, “Dope”. All things considered, we are very excited about what this guy will release in 2018, and naturally, you can find about it all out here at Underground Sound.
Closing the interview with Abbaz, we found out that although he is a rapper, he is also a hippy at heart, who wants to be free from the system. When asked his plans for the future, he explained;
“In the end, I want to achieve a status in life where I can be economically and financially free. Which means, I want to unplug from the Matrix. I want to go and have me a house out there, where I can grow my own food and eat from the ground. Some people may find it twisted, but I think some people who have a background in their conscience world, they know what I’ m talking about”
A very interesting man and a remarkable artist with an incredible story.
Words by: Will Macmaster