Many rappers in Egypt give up on music for some time just to return with a new style and to new audiences. Marwan Ahmad is not one of them. Shortly after his successful debut using the nickname Dama, Marwan gave up on music a year ago, deleted his Youtube channel and all his songs. He disappeared for a long time. His absence from the musical scene was marked by the death of the star Dama and the birth of Marwan Pablo. After releasing only two songs, Marwan Pablo became one of the most influential Rap voices in Egypt.
The two songs, ʻayez fen (where do you wanna go? -video below) and al-ghilaf (the cover) showcase sophisticated remixes. ʻAyez fen (where do you wanna go?) has been largely heard in popular festivals across the country. Popular festivals earned their popularity after the 2011 revolution when audiences of lower classes gather to express their discontent through the medium of rap and techno-music. As such, it is of no surprise that the remix of the song that caught fire in popular festivals was produced by Sadat El 3almy as he is known for his experimental style and his remix of rap songs, namely his latest work for Dracula.
The collaboration between the two musicians come as each of their music complements the other. Sadat, who performs at popular festivals, write like a typical lyricist for festivals: uses popular proverbs with preaching tone but expresses a modest ability to critique, unlike rappers who excel at this rhetoric. Furthermore, Marwan Pablo is a talented lyricist who co-wrote his latest song with a powerful performer, Sadat.
Because of its multi-layered meaning, Marwan Pablo’s rap songs allow for many remix possibilities. Upon listening to Pablo, we immediately feel that the song is like ‘fire’ and that it could even be more expressive in many ways too. Luckily, when the listener is a musician we get a new remix. Sharif Sharkhi’s remix of the song Ghilaf (cover) was the most successful as he musically navigates and add to the rhythmic and sonic spaces of the song. The remix of ʻayez fen (where do you wanna go?) was a great hit in popular festivals. By adding special rhythms and beats, the remixer Ahmad Fijo alters the song’s mood from dark and somber to open and free. Despite that, Fijo’s mix shows a few imperfections: a shaky intro and unnecessary beats here and there.
Sadat’s vocal ability and style expose the song’s sonic possibilities. The song is now freed from Marwan Pablo’s monotonous voice through Sadat’s lively and vigorous tone. Sadat smoothly alters his vocal range, stresses on some letters and softens others, sings from chest to head; in such a remarkable way that one thinks he has swallowed three pills of ecstasy at once.
Popular festivals in Egypt are believed to be an offshoot of rap culture, and vis-versa. The remix of ʻayez fen (where do you wanna go?) challenges that assumption by demarcating rap music as one genre from festivals music as another genre. Furthermore, the remix also demonstrates that the sonic-musical space in Egypt can encompass both, simultaneously, and that rap and popular festivals have a lot to share and exchange.