Basil Al-Hadi stands as one of the best examples of a creative director who has expressed his vision across many corresponding creative fields. He’s successfully translated what could be called a “utopian vision” of the world across photoshoots, music projects, event concepts, and much more.
Anyone who knows Basil personally knows him for the warmth of his personality and genuine interest in promoting creativity in the region. As a singer, songwriter, composer, and DJ, his carefree energy is contagious and one that invites others to build instead of compete. It’s no surprise that the theme of friendship is so central to his content.
At his creative core is Basil’s Karrouhat platform, which started as a band in 2008. The groovy, tropical concept of the world accentuating Basil’s faith in humanity, has since paved a way for the development of alternative music scenes across Kuwait and UAE.
DJ Karrouhat is unabashedly about feeling good and protecting one’s authenticity as time carries on.
“The goal is to establish love, good friendships, and good vibes for all,” he said. “I’ve used many tools over time. At first, it was with writing and then music, then DJing and event concepts. I gather people to make those links and connections.”
In terms of genre, one can find diverse influences in Basil’s tapestry of sound including reggae mixed in with a slew of other genres including trap, hiphop, mahrajanat, khaleeji, and dabke. Those interested in keeping up with Basil’s music should keep an eye out for his forthcoming album, a 5-track project due for release later this year.
“My vision is to give love and feel love. I do this by supporting others and nurturing a community,” he said. “I work to elevate others and support them in a meaningful way that creates a circle of emotion. Music is the strongest tool I have, but I’ve also worked to support chefs, fashion designers, and a number of others.”
It’s pretty obvious that style is second-nature to Basil and fashion is a significant part of his life.
“Since I was a kid, I cared about how I come across to people and what I look like,” he said. “I know how to style myself and people around me. At the end of the day, fashion is important in art, music, and beyond, and helps create linkages with brands and businesses.”
When asked about fashion and style, he builds on the idea that the way we look is an expression of who we are. Basil explains that it’s a reflection of the history we’ve lived, the psychology in our heads, and it’s ultimately an expression of what stands out to us.
“Some people do it flawlessly and those are the people who are able to achieve a level of originality,” he said.
Each one of us can express this history in our own way. When asked to deconstruct his style, Basil points first and foremost to street culture and his experiences. He attributes his own originality to the way he distances himself from what’s trending on Internet culture or what he might see in a magazine.
In this light, one can begin to unpack why his style is so special. His work in the fashion world reflects this. As an art director he’s taken lead on a number of significant photoshoots, working alongside stylists, photographers, and models. He’s also brought his flair of creativity to local Middle Eastern brands like Shabab, Precious Trust, Tania George, 2d2c2m, and others.
There are many ways to describe Basil’s style. He introduces a look that maintains a balance between high-end and accessible, psychedelic and formal, everyday and special, and comedic and serious. While he might mix style vocabulary across brands like Vans, Burberry, and Gucci, Basil always finds his roots in the everyday person.
“My inspiration is the street because I’m from the street. The places I go, the people I meet, these all impact me,” he said. “Collectively, they shape my world and are a reference point from which I came and belong. The aesthetics of the 90s and early 2000s also had a profound influence on me.”
However you enter his world, Basil’s message is ultimately one about being lifted and finding acceptance and a sense of identity in the world. Shying away from inflammatory statements, Basil gifts the world with “i love you wallah,” a tagline with the sentiments of Bob Marley or John Lennon. His work affirms humanity and a faith in the simple. He’s planted his seeds of hope in both UAE and Kuwait and one can only expect his contributions to the creative industry to grow as Karrouhat’s extensions continue to find their way into musical, visual, and experiential manifestations.
“Karrouhat is my life project and I have grown it to the point where it contains fantastic clients and ideas,” he said. “I think about Karrouhat every day and how I can develop it as a positive, meaningful platform to support others.”
Words by Plus Aziz
Images courtesy of Karrouhat