In person, Ash Hamman (real name Abdul Sammir Hamman) is as smooth as his tracks. The singer, songwriter, dancer and entrepreneur is charming and chatty, happily recounting his rise to the top, from being born in Nigeria, growing up in the US and UK – where his track Bounce 2 This reached number one on the garage and club music chart – to Dubai, where he’s cultivating his Immaqul’8 Entertainment brand and bringing what he describes as “fresh air” to the city’s music scene.
And it’s not just his pop and hip-hop-inspired beats that are rooted in R’n’B – Ash’s star is getting higher and brighter, with his own range of Carrera sunglasses soon to be released and more music in the works, so in the meantime, he’s living it large...
You arrived in Dubai and got your tracks on the radio just two weeks later – how did you manage that?
The whole coming to Dubai thing was a bet between my mum and I, she clearly won, because the vibe that’s here and the people I’ve met are just amazing. I met a TV presenter about six years ago and he was like, “I want you to look into the camera and say ‘Eid Mubarak’” and we did that about 20 times. He was the first to support me and then I met some other DJs and music lovers. The support is what counts and that’s led to radio plays and TV shows.
You’re the face of Carrera Sunglasses – did you take any inspiration from the huge photos of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum wearing his sunnies on billboards in Dubai?
For sure, some of my looks are inspired by that poster, and the pose itself, but my adoration for Carrera started way back, and believe me or not, one day I’ll have my own huge poster on SZR as well – I just need to start practicing the pose!
You’re a repeat shades after dark offender! Do you really think it’s OK to wear sunglasses at night?
[Laughs] Yes, to enjoy the nightlife in style, but be sure of where you’re standing and where your chair is before sitting down! If not, it’s a wrap, if you know what I mean! I wear them in the club at night sometimes, that’s why I put out my ‘Ash Hamman’ limited edition sunglasses. You can wear them at night, but the tints are brighter than regular sunnies, so you can see where you’re going. But please, still have your chair close by for your own safety!
You’ve said you’re inspired by the likes of Jay-Z – do you have a Beyoncé in your life?Jay-Z inspires me, as an entrepreneur and a creative-minded icon, but remember, Beyoncé is already taken!
What’s the obsession with R’n’B artists taking their shirts off in videos?
That’s a good question. We’re all trying to promote a healthy lifestyle and get on the front covers of magazines! Entertainment is about showing off to an extent, looks-wise, especially. So if you’re fit that’s always a plus. I guess it’s got a lot to do with confidence and comfort as well, look at Cee Lo Green and Rick Ross.
When you hold auditions for ladies to be in your videos, what are you looking for?During auditions, I first look for that ‘boom boom pow’ factor.
What does that mean?!
It means they’re fit! Then personality, confidence, swag. And they should know how to move, dance and act in front of the camera... then you’ve got yourself a winner.
Where’s your favourite place to perform?
Honestly, I love singing in the shower!
What’s your go-to track to get you in the party mood?
I’m a musician to the core, so there’s not just one ‘get me in the mood’ song. I listen to everything, old school music never fails me though and it also reminds me of where I started from. My dad always threw amazing and memorable parties and got us laughing and dancing like crazy. Thinking about it brings back that vibe which gets me in the mood to par-tay!