« Hip Hop is like sport. You have to be hard otherwise they gonna eat you”, he said. And he knows what he is talking about; Hamad Al Fardan AKA The Mystro, is a former racing driver. He dropped out at the end of the 2009 season to fully dedicate himself to his true passion, Hip Hop. With his third album in the works, he is now racing for fame. As with all the other artists we have met, he is completely self-taught and still trying to cut his way into Bahrain’s rap scene.
“Incredible” is the term that Melchior and I silently shouted when we discovered The Mystro’s music studio, or was it silent?
The 26-year-old man built it all by himself making a professional studio out of a flat room. Heavy sound equipment, mixing tables, monitors here and there, mics everywhere. This place could be the envy of most modern US studios.
With “I am back”, his second album, he faced some criticism for speaking out about the emptiness of the Bahraini rap scene. Now he is making a comeback with a new type of sound, mixing traditional Arabic music into the flow. In his little studio he had to welcome an entire orchestra of traditional musicians. “We managed just well!” he said with a wink.
A live! It makes one feel to attend a private show. The Mystro allowed us to enter his intimate space with that. And that was just what Melchior needed to get his photographs. Let’s Rock’n roll, or rap in that case!
Shooting faster than a blink as usual, Melchior was juggling with the digital and his large format camera. Captivated by The Mystro’s mic, he shot it just enough times to make a 3D replica.
“I’ll show you my favorite place around here. It’s an abandoned house we used to play in as kids. Some say it’s haunted by Djinns” he said.
And sure enough, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, this house strangely stands. And no, I’m not wearing a cape in order to deceive the Djinns and distance them, it’s Melchior’s material I’m holding.
We took leave promising ourselves to buy The Mystro an ashtray he desperately needs.
Eman was to shoot Bahrain University’s corridors. It’s part of her project. Resolutely moving the large format, choosing the angles carefully, and the shoot was off. She wanted it to be perfect. Not a woman to waste time but the Devil lies in the details nevertheless.
The less light, the more time needed for exposure. The more time of exposure, the more the risks of someone coming by and ruining the photograph. So you’d better hurry before night falls because photographers prefer using the sun’s natural light. What stressful work.
Eman manages it just perfectly. When we were in Dubai we opened a famous regional art magazine only to discover Eman looking out from the pages. Being featured in it is great recognition. We hang out with a star!
It was time to meet with another talented artist. Leon D is a graffer. We heard about him on many occasions and were keen to get him. Unfortunately for us he was abroad for weeks. Thanks to Ali we got to finally meet and explain what is it that we do here.
Just enough time to have a sip of those strange teas they sell in the shops (50 % coffee + 50 % tea in the same cup), to watch some videos and we were off in Leon D’s car. A magical tour of Bahrain’s streets.
-You are mine!
-You are mine, that’s the piece’s title over there
No he wasn’t hijacking us. Leon D was introducing us to some graffs. Not only his. Actually the You are mine one, is not his. As we sank into the heavy Gulf’s night, we stopped in front of Ali’s “lantern”, a stencil he did in a bus stop shelter.
We’ve discovered one common link between all the artists we’ve met here – their passion is not their main job. There are no scholarships, no direct aid or funding, no schools or academies for training. These are self-made, self-trained individuals with little support. If they want to keep on doing what they love, they only have themselves to rely on. Of course they tend to help each other. Like The Mystro doing collaborations with other musicians, or Leon D showing works made by others.
In essence, the condition of young artists here is a statement in itself.
Standing proudly and saying out loud “I am”. To which we want to add “a Flag bearer” because they are at the forefront of this forgotten idea – the artist is a change maker.
Music by The Mystro: You & me (feat. Ayzee), I’m Back
FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheMystro247
On Bahrain Music Conference website: http://www.bmc-bh.com/?wp_artists=hamad-mystro-fardan
Instagram page: @thyleond