When Afropop went to Egypt in the summer of 2011, one of the most fascinating musical scenes that we got a chance to explore was the world of electro Sha’bi- a youthful, energetic music bubbling from the nation’s working class neighborhoods. While we there, the newest generation of Sha’bi music (and musicians) had a mixed reputation–frowned upon by some as lowbrow noise, celebrated by others as the most promising trend-setters on the scene.
Our ears were definitely pricked by the genre’s exciting sound, a low bit-rate rush of synthesizer runs, over the top sound effects, pounding rhythms, wild singers, and even wilder dancing. It was basically only a matter of time before Egypt (and the rest of the world) began to take notice of the incredibly innovate style that had grown up seemingly overnight. That day seems to have come sooner rather then later, and we can now witness the beginnings of what will almost surely be the scene’s rapid entrance onto a global dancefloor that has already gobbled up cumbia, footwork, moombhaton, and countless other genre’s in relatively short order.
A slightly less cynical interpretation turns around the music’s increasing acceptance within Egypt itself. During the revolution, Egyptian rap proved itself to be an able form of political and cultural communication. Sha’bi, while usually far less direct, even apolitical, in its messaging, seems now poised to play an equally important role in the development of a post-Mubarak youth culture. Certainly, the music’s working class associations and over-the-top energy mark it as something new to a formerly staid mainstream. Who knows what the implications of its widespread acceptance will ultimately be? As with so much connected with Egypt these days, it’s simply impossible to predict.
However, as this fantastic article by Jace Clayton (AKA DJ/rupture) suggests, those who told us electro-sha’bi would be the next big thing appear to have had it right. ALSO, see this (more music focused) post on generation bass.
You can also check out these videos, all which only scratches the surface of what’s out there.