wenty-four-year-old rapper Lynn Fattouh, better known as Malikah, has been performing for almost a decade now. At the tender age of 16, she managed to break onto the music scene in Lebanon, which became a stepping stone to stardom. The half-Lebanese, half-Algerian performer toured the region and developed a wide base of fans, who appreciate her as one of the first female rappers in the region.
Malikah sat down with NOW Extra to share her experiences and discuss her upcoming album, scheduled for release in October.
What are your current plans?
Malikah: I just got back from a show in Tunisia, and I am planning to go to Cairo next month to perform at a music festival there. But mainly, I am focusing on releasing my album.
You have been around for a while now. Surprisingly, this would be your first album. Why?
Malikah: Many people ask me why I haven’t released a solo album yet. I have released many songs with different artists, which were actually featured on their albums. But when it comes down to mine, [I want it to be] different. I decided to produce this album without signing with a record label. [This means] it needs more time and more money. But hopefully, it will be released in October.
So can you give us a look into your album?
Malikah: I will have collaborations with several Arab and American artists. I won’t give out the names because I want to keep it a surprise for my fans. But, for example, I have one song with US rapper Nate Dogg. I was also very lucky because FredWreck – a Palestinian artist who has worked with many big names in the US, such as Snoop Dog, Dr Dre, Eminem and D-12 – wanted to produce my album.
So how do you want to present your album?
Malikah: Malikah means queen in Arabic, so my first album will be a kind of coronation. We want to toy with this idea. It’s as if the album will finally make me… the queen of the streets.
How does it feel to perform for different audiences in different Arab countries?
Malikah: It is a great experience, because we all share the same language and have a common culture. Yet at the same time, each audience reacts very differently [to my music]. You have countries like Palestine, Morocco and Egypt, where R&B is huge, so people really enjoy my music. I also have a big fan base in the Gulf. Unfortunately, Lebanon is still lagging behind.
Do you mean you have more fans in other countries than in your own?
Malikah: Yes, definitely. And I don’t understand why this is the case. Rap music has always been the music of the minorities and of those who suffer, and Lebanon has had such a painful history. But I think it is the Lebanese way of thinking. People need to get convinced of something before they show they support and love [it]. Lebanese hip hop is still young, and I hope within a few years our message will win people’s hearts.
How do you explain your popularity with foreign audiences?
Malikah: Being Lebanese is definitely a big part of it. [Arabs] have a good image of Lebanon. Even in Europe and Canada, where I had performed previously, I felt like people there were becoming more interested in our culture. I am really proud to represent my country, and it is good to see that foreigners have a positive take [on our culture]. This is something I want to show through my music.