May ‘15
Insight Interview

May ‘15
Qusai Khedr aka
Qusai Khedr aka


    


Destroying barriers is his favorite game. His free spirit blends with his deep roots to rhyme with his gifted flairs! Sticking to his Arab pertinence Don Legend the Kamelion is back to resurrect the urban legacy'¦

How did you discover your passion for hip-hop and music?

Ever since I was a little kid I've always been a fan of entertainment, and that's how I learned my English from movies and music by pronouncing the word before I even knew what it means. Later on I asked my mother to get me a keyboard then a drum machine and then DJ equipment and I found myself not just a fan of the music world but also a part of it. By the late 80's I discovered hip-hop and by the early 90's I became a producer, a DJ, a rapper and I started writing my own songs.


So you established your career as a DJ before following your passion for hip-hop.

I enjoy listening to all kinds of music and I love the fact that music makes people feel good. With music you can express yourself freely and I wanted to please people with something I enjoy doing. I used to DJ all kinds of music until I was drown to the world of hip-hop and I found myself djing more hip-hop music. When I moved to the States, I took my music career to a further level by working on the radio and then some clubs. I had a very good journey with hip-hop as a DJ.


How did the shift happen?

I was introduced to hip-hop by LL Cool J's 'Mama said knock You Out' and it made me wonder what kind of art this is! Tupac Shakur inspired me to express myself by writing and to just grab the mic and rap, but as a performer, Michael Jackson played the biggest role in my life; I am a big fan of his music, he's such a great entertainer and performer who gave me confidence in my stage presence.


You worked with a lot of great artists worldwide, who had the greatest influence on you?

That would be the phenomenal Lionel Richie, someone that I am a huge fan of! We established very good communications and friendship on a personal level. I was inspired by one of his songs and remade it but never released it, only performed it to VIPs. One thing lead to the other, he heard the song and loved it. When we met in the States we agreed when we are both available to finalize this project. Hopefully by this year we could mange to get it released. I've always wanted to work with the underground artists as well. I am a fan of their music and the sincerity behind what they do as artists.


Let's move to 'Om Eldonia', what was your inspiration for this amazing project?

'Om Eldonia' is another experiment that I enjoyed doing. How I label it? Experimental entertainment! I am a poetic rhyme sayer as an MC! I experiment music and add some Arabic touches to it and that has been my craft for many years. I also like to take an edge further with Arabic melodies; I play with the music piece because I want it to be created as an original. I've always wanted to make a song about Egypt; I have an unconditional love for Egypt since I was a little kid. The producer of the song, Jimmy Hadad brought me the song and we worked on it until it turned the way I wanted. I wanted someone to do the chorus and the guys from Arab League told me, how about you bring some people who do this thing called 'Mahrajant' (Festivals). That's the new movement and the disease that's spreading everywhere, and it's such a successful movement and people love it. I didn't want to go for the commercial names, I wanted to collaborate with the founders who created that move and everyone told me that was Sadat and Fifty. I told them I am taking you guys from your craft as 'Mahrajanat' singers to my world when it comes to music.


How did you find the experience with Sadat and Fifty and the whole 'Mahrajanat' gig?

It was amazing because at first I didn't have much knowledge about that movement. A man in my position I like old school and old music I won't pay attention to that. The boys told me to listen and get the idea! I heard some songs and liked them and found that I can do something my way. I clicked with Sadat and Fifty, they are fans of my music and I love that they are real and sincere! I like the fact that they are young, ambitious and crazy, they brought that out of me and it was great. I am not that kind of a guy that looks at what class one is from and the background'¦. If you're good to me I am good to you.


What about your latest album 'Featuring Don Legend'?

It's a mix tape collectively of a bunch of songs that I have been doing for the past five to ten years with different Arab artists, all from the underground scene. Every song is with a new artist and that's why I called it 'Featuring Don Legend'. I decided to release it for the fans for free in limited quantity to show them my love and appreciation. I have an international song called ' I'm Cool' I'm planning to shoot the music video for very soon, I have a major album that I am planning to mix and master and release by the end of this year, so I needed to give my fans something to at least enjoy for the summer.


Tell us the story behind your stage name 'Don Legend the Kamelion'.

Back in high school, a very good friend of mine whose name is Feisal noticed that when I put something in mind I am very focused to do it, like in sports, sports is my thing but I also love music and he advised me to focus on one and pursue a career in it, and I chose music. I took my bachelors and masters from the US and when I came back I decided to follow my music dream and I released a song called 'Geda' and it blew up and he told me from that day you'll be a living legend. 'Don' was inspired from the 'God Father' and I became 'Don Legend'. Time passed by and I succeeded with my music and Faisal told me if your past made you who you are today, I am glad you went through it, I am proud of what you've accomplished you are a legend and since that moment I kept that name and cherished it. Kamelion came from an ex girlfriend who noticed that I am an Arab guy who merges with whoever I hang out with, she told me anywhere you go you blend in like a Kamelion and I became 'Don Legend the Kamelion'. I went with that name in the states for a while because of the fact that not a lot of people can pronounce my name 'Qusai'! One of the underground people I used to live with broke it down to Q.U.S.A.I (Quality Uniting Souls that are Ambitious and Intelligent) and they told me to embrace my birth name and that's why I decided exit 'Don Legend the Kamelion', enter 'Qusai', and I came back to the middle East as 'Qusai'.


Everybody wants to know the behind the scenes and insights of 'Arabs Got Talent'.

The load of the show is on my sister Raya and I from the am all the way to the pm! We're there in auditions, rehearsals and live episodes, we carry the show from the beginning to the end and on top of that we have the responsibility of connecting with all talents. In front of the camera, you have the judges and us. Our relationship with the judges is awesome; otherwise we'd not be going strong for four seasons and I believe that season four was the strongest of all four. It's a beautiful experience and I take advantage of it because I am a hip-hop artist and hip-hop has certain limitation in the Middle East. I am not a host, I am an MC there's a difference. I participated in bringing hip-hop acts to the show with all its elements, DJing to breaking, which is the strongest one in the show, rapping and MCing and also showcased some of my music.


What's your take on the controversy surrounding talent programs?

Let me tell you something, I am an entertainer. Lights, camera, action I do my thing, when the camera is off I am the first to leave, I don't get involved in politics. This is show business; we are here to entertain people. People watch to love, hate and criticize, to cry, feel passion and argue. Regarding the say so behind the people, that's gossip that will never stop. Is it accurate? Real? Fake? I told you from the beginning I don't get into politics, but to my knowledge when I'm in the control room everything is straight and sincere. There were some talking here and some talking there but at the end this is all talk, it's not about the action otherwise the show wouldn't be one of the most successful shows in the region for the past decade.


What are your coming projects?

I am planning to go to the states to shoot my music video for 'I am Cool' as well as mix and master my new album. My album is called 'The Resurrection of Urban Legacy'. Ten years ago I released an underground album with my brother for life Daniel aka D Light, we released an album of 20 songs and now we are doing it again and hopefully we'll release it by the end of this year.


By Rania Ihab