The UV fringes of Freek’s giant screen-stage structure glow with stunning visuals

Freek arrives at the Fridge too big to fail.

While his manager Elia Mssawir takes a deep breath to take in the 'calm before the storm'—every necessary preparation went underway—DJ Liutik brought the ambiance to a decibel-pounder.

It’s a bustling early night in the Al Serkal, but this is no calm setting. Things are about to get wild.

Freek's party to promote his debut album release, 150, took on almost mythical status, with tales of side-winding car visuals, epic collaborations and roof-raising vibes.

When he launched his career, he was at the helm of one of the greatest Arab drill productions of all time, a spectacular masterclass that could have been lodged at a trendy art museum as much as a stage. The Emirati-born Somali rapper's cultural force is so prevalent that he acts as both a vacuum and transmitter, sucking up influences and disseminating them Freek-ified, in Spotify-conquering, languid classic after classic in headphone-dominating glory.

While the cynical may bash his tropes and outlandish fashion sense, Freek doesn’t do Arab trap, he is Arab trap. He comes to the scene amid the region’s burgeoning hip-hop, rap-trap-drill boom, at one of the most exciting times for music here in a generation. Rap fans have always been emphatic in the show of their passion, and now they have homegrown acts to go to when the superstars aren’t in town.

FREEK performing live at The Fridge. Photo by Aaron Borleo.

So, what happens next? The UV fringes of Freek’s giant screen-stage structure glow, as Freek’s tour DJ and better-half, the excellent Maila feeds the crowd tunes with a heavy dose of bass drops and low-fi's to usher them into the madness about to descend. Freek hadn’t even hit the stage when the head-bobbing started while the venue reached full capacity.

The initial slice of the show is not so much concert as montage as visuals from his singles bewildered fans and spectators alike. Host of the night Shadi gave justice to Freek with well-versed introductions complemented with soundtracks and eye candies. Visuals for 'La Tithawar' featuring LiL Eazy set the tone for what Freek was all about—transcendence. When it felt like the night was about to conclude, Freek snuck himself between the expectant crowd, grabbed the mic and in minutes, the show goes from zero to wreck-the-gaff.

FREEK and TooDope perform Sah Wala Lah impromptu.

The overall vibe is frenetic and so energy-focused, cohesion drops by the wayside. It’s almost as if he’s representing a generation for whom distraction is a default. "I wasn't even supposed to perform." The vibe was undeniably lit. There’s a new level of energy. And then he takes a shot. Freek obliges.

The intensity level goes higher song after song. At one point, Freek calls everyone to get down. And when the bass dropped, everyone rose and banged heads while he joins the crowd to the tune of 'Wala Kilma.'

By the time 'Khali Wali' comes around it was mayhem. This song put his name on the drill-trap map and he affirms that. But perhaps the most unforgettable instance of the party tuned 'PARTY!' was the announcement of a lost and found car keys. Someone shouted "Khali Wali!" Very fitting?

Wait, then it switches up again. TooDope on stage. The duo's impromptu performance of Sah Wala Lah was nothing short of brilliance taking the night to another level.

Freek is all about inclusion. Post-post-modern in full effect. His Insta-story says it all. This is Freek at his finest, tuned in to the engagement economy. How rare is it to have an artist so low in ego at his level? The latter part of the show settles, and as the themes and truly epic visuals conspire, the crowd and artist merge, as if on a timeline.

EXPAT is musivv's segment dedicated to featuring expatriate artists living in the UAE. Features under this segment are eligible for a nomination under this category on The musivv Awards (TMAs) annual recognition.

February 5, 2022

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