Saudi becoming a global leader in arts, says Algerian American rapper and filmmaker
When Saudi Arabia decides to showcase arts and culture, it does it on a grand scale, which is advancing its claim as one of the world’s leading entertainment hubs.
This is the view of Algerian American filmmaker and rapper Solvan “Slick” Naim, who recently appeared on “The Mayman Show” to talk about his career and collaboration with leading Arab and American artists in the US.
“I’m not surprised … I think their new initiative, they’re really bringing a lot of entertainment, to their (cities). And I feel like it’s when Saudi does it, they do it big, you know, they’re going to do it big. So they’re going to put a lot of resources into it,” said Naim.
He is not surprised that the Kingdom is host to the region’s largest music gathering with MDLBEAST. “I think it’s been showing right, you know, it’s been a huge hit. And I look forward to collaborating with them,” he said.
The rapper and filmmaker serves as director and executive producer for the successful Netflix series “Mo” which has been picked up for a second season. The series is loosely based on comedian and lead star Mohammed Amer’s life as a Palestinian refugee living in Houston, Texas.
Naim is also working with Saudi comedian Moayad Alnefaie who Amer brought onto the show. “Moayad is hilarious man, he is a great guy. We became friends. He got into the project, very simple. Mo knew him, Mo wanted him in the project role, pushed for him. You know, we didn’t know who he was at the time, you know, in America. And Mo really vouched for him, and he pulled through,” said Naim.
He said everyone were initially suspicious of Alnefaie’s ability, but this was soon laid to rest after the first scene with the Saudi comedian. “I mean, you know, he killed it, he was so unique, and hilarious and authentic. That brought such a tapestry to the series,” said Naim.
Naim said the scene was in a hookah shop, with Moayad only saying “she foo, she foo” which impressed the production team because it was so funny and memorable in the context of the storyline.
On his career as a rapper, Naim said he had recently released a song “Scary Slope” where he describes how hard it is for him to balance being a musician and filmmaker. For his music videos, he found a productive partnership with his wife Dr. Reema Naim, who has Saudi roots, and is now his director.
“She always wanted to be a music video director. So me being a husband and a music artist, we were able to collaborate together and we were able to make that second passion that she had a reality. Because like I said, I wrote over a 100 songs. So we got plenty of music videos to shoot and direct,” he said.
Naim said Reema has generated several ideas for songs. “So she had a vision and we brought all the crew together, and now she’s able to live out her dream as well.”
Naim said he has visited Saudi Arabia and found the experience illuminating and educational. “It was going to a place I’ve never gone before, seeing a culture I’ve never seen before. And you know, actually my wife has roots there. So for me, it was also seeing family, right. Seeing my mother-in-law.”
He was particularly enamoured with his trip to Riyadh’s Edge of the World. “It’s like this desert cliff that was incredible. We were just able to soak it all in. Eat some food, some delicious food over there. Some great fresh pomegranate juice. So you guys got the best pomegranate juice out there.”