After the ousting of former Egyptian President Muhammed Hosni Mubarak, an explosion of indie artwork and music has erupted within Egypt, mainly in cities like Cairo and Alexandria. This post is dedicated to all the great musicians that have contributed with their great music to remind us of the wonderful values that were born in the early days of January 25th 2011 and I think they would require our recognition.
Tarek Borollossy – Angry Friday
“Angry Friday” is a folk song telling the story and recapturing the events and climax of January 28th; the day that symbolizes everything that the Egyptian revolution stands for. The song was written by Digla’s lead singer Tarek Borollossy.
Nagham Masry – Hereb El Khasees (The Bastard Fled)
“Hereb El Khasees” is an Arabic song made by the Egyptian Oriental-Jazz fusion band Nagham Masry. This song is a reminder of the days when Egyptians were united under a common belief/faith in Tahrir Square.
Nadya Shanab – Egypt’s Waiting For Me
Egyptian female singer-songwriter living in Liverpool Nadya Shanab portrays how the unity between 85 million Egyptian was the strongest reason behind the toppling of an oppressive regime in her song “Egypt’s Waiting For Me”.
The Choir Project – Al Sha’ab Yoreed Hayat Al Medan (Life Of Tahrir)
The Choir Project is a musical project that invites people from all walks of life to put their hopes and concerns, their feelings and thoughts, their jokes and woes into a song. Utopia Choir, the fifth edition of The Choir Project was a workshop that took place for 5 days in Feb 2011. Life Of Tahrir was produced collectively during the workshop and it collects all the revolutionary chants that were said during the 18 days alongside the troubles that an Egyptian faced under the reign of Mubarak’s era of corruption.
Ahmed Mekky – January 25th
A rap song with beautiful and touching lyrics by the famous Egyptian rapper/actor/producer Ahmed Mekky.
Amir Eid, Hany Adel & Hawary– Sout El Horreya (The Voice Of Freedom)
A song that was made by the compiled efforts of various Egyptian underground musicians. The lyrics portray how freedom was born within Tahrir Square.
Cairokee ft. Aida El Ayouby – Ya El Medan (The Square)
The collaborative work of Cairokee (a band that offers a unique blend of contemporary rock and Egyptian rhythm with Arabic vocals) and the great Egyptian vocalist who had retired from music and had come back to sing again after January 25th Aida El-Ayouby.
Ramy Donjewan – Resaala Ella El-Mosheer Tantawi (Message To Field Marshal Tantawi)
A rap song with excellent beats and lyrics directed to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi that questions the stances of the SCAF about the Egyptian revolution.
EKHWAN-G – Ana Ekhwangy. Ana Kalamangy (I’m with the Muslim Brotherhood. And I talk bullshit)
A parody rap song which was aired on Bassem Youssef’s satirical comedy TV show “El-Barnameg” that criticizes the Muslim Brotherhood’s political stances and contradicting statements.
Mohamed Mounir – Ezzay? (How?)
Mohamed Mounir is a popular Egyptian singer and actor. He is one of the best-known musicians, both in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, with a musical career spanning more than three decades. He incorporates various genres into his music, including classical Arabic Music, Nubian music, blues, jazz and reggae. His lyrics are noted both for their philosophical content and for their passionate social and political commentary. He is affectionately known by his fans as “The King” in reference to his album and play “El Malek Howa El Malek” (The King is The King)
Ramy Essam – Aish, Horeyya, A’daala Egtema’ayya (Bread, Freedom and Social Justice)
Ramy Essam was born in 1987 to a family in Al-Mansoura where he went to school and studied engineering. As a self taught guitarist, he started to write songs at the age of 17 inspired by young poets like Amgad Qahwagi and Mohamed Bahgat as well as Ahmed Fouad Negm who spoke up against Mubarak’s regime.
He formed the band Mashakel (Problems) in 2009 where he started to sing for a free life illustrating the simple daily problems that all Egyptians during Mubarak’s reign. During the January 25th Revolution, Ramy came to Cairo on January 30th to participate. He camped in Tahrir Square where he became a regular Cairene. He composed the crowd’s anti-Mubarak chants with his song Irhal (Leave) that later on became the protesters’ anthem.
On the 11th of February 2011 Mubarak finally got the message to Irhal and was forced to resign. But when Ramy Essam returned to the square after this historic announcement, he was identified as an thug where he was arrested and detained for four hours, during which he was beaten and tasered.
But that didn’t stop Ramy from pressing on and fighting for what he believes. After that, Ramy performed multiple songs in different places across Egypt and abroad.
Time Out London named Ramy Essam’s song Irhal as one of the 100 songs that has affected humanity.
On November 19th, Ramy Essam was a second runner up for the main prize in the 2011 Freedom to Create Prize awards.
Then on November 21st he received the Freemuse Award 2011 at a ceremony in Södra Teatern in Stockholm, Sweden.
Askar Kazeboon (Lies of the Military)
A rap song which is part of the Kazeboon (Liars) campaign made by a number of volunteering activists to expose the lies of the SCAF.
Youssra El-Hawari – El-Soor (The Wall)
In order to prevent protests, SCAF, the military government ruling over Egypt following Mubarak’s ousting, erected large walls in the city of Cairo. These walls have become a site of resistance in the form of graffiti and the like, and in this song, an even simpler expression of discontent.
Yasser El-Manawehly – Kella Mondassa (Chaotic Minority)
As described in his interview on Yosri Fouda’s show on ONtv, Yasser El-Manawehly is an Egyptian musician that doesn’t adhere to any political ideology, he only adheres to the music that he writes and towards the spirit of the revolution. He was born in Egypt and raised in Kuwait and later he returned back to pursue his studies where he graduated from Cairo University in 1966. Currently he trades in spare-parts of automobiles while pursuing his talent in writing music about the revolution. His satirical lyrics alongside his strange vocal performance are things that are new towards most Egyptians.
Mohammed El-Nahas – Ana Mesh A’asef Ya Rayes (I am not sorry Mr. President)
Mohammed El-Nahas is a young and ambitious Egyptian musician/composer that tries to express the voices of Egyptians through his music.
Aly Talibab – Al-Kamal (The Perfection)
A rap song made by the 21 year old rapper from Giza, Cairo Aly Talibab. The lyrics are very poetic and they’re in formal and Egyptian colloquial Arabic.
Sheikh Imam – Ya Masr Koumi (Oh Egypt, Wake Up)
Imam Mohammad Ahmad Eissa or Sheikh Imam (July 2, 1918 – June 7, 1995) was a famous Egyptian composer and singer.
Imam was born to a poor family in the Egyptian village of Abul Numrus in Giza. He lost his sight when he was a child. At the age of five he joined a recitation class, where he memorized the Qur’an. He later moved to Cairo to study where he led a dervish life. In Cairo, Imam met Sheikh Darwish el-Hareery, a prominent musical figure at that time, who taught him the basics of music and muwashshah singing. He then worked with the Egyptian composer Zakariyya Ahmad. At that time, he expressed interest in Egyptian folk songs especially those by Sayed Darwish and Abdou el-Hamouly. He also performed at weddings and birthdays.
In 1962 he met the Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm. For many years, they formed a duo composing and singing political songs, mostly in favor of the poor oppressed classes and indicting the ruling classes. Though their songs were banned on Egyptian Radio and Television stations, they were popular among ordinary people in the 1960s and 1970s. Their revolutionary songs criticizing the government after the 1967 war led them to imprisonment and detention several times. In the mid 80s Imam performed several concerts in France, Britain, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. Later Imam and Negm broke up after several disagreements. Imam died at the age of 78 after a long illness. During the revolution, Sheikh Imam’s songs began to gain a lot of popularity in all the squares of Egypt as it spoke of the struggles of most people.
One of his famous songs that I have linked is made by the Egyptian band El-Shaare’e (The Street) that is comprised of a lot of famous Egyptian musicians and artists such as the famous Oud virtouso Hazem Shaheen and singers like Samia Jaheen (daughter of the well known Egyptian poet/cartoonist Salah Jaheen).