Saturday, February 26, 2011

Soundtrack to the Arab Revolutions (Guardian UK)

Soundtrack to the Arab Revolutions

Rapper El Général helped spark the uprising in Tunisia, and in Egypt musicians bravely played their part in their nation's transformation with these impassioned and incendiary tracks

Protesters sing in Tahrir Square in Cairo
Protesters sing in Tahrir Square in Cairo Photograph: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The soundtrack to the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt is brilliantly reported by Andy Morgan elsewhere on this site. Andy used to manage the Tuareg band Tinariwen, but is now a full-time journalist, with his own blog devoted to world music. Here, with videos culled from YouTube, are some of the acts he describes in his piece on how the Arab world found its voice.


Tunisian rapper El Général uploaded his song "Rais Le Bled" (President, Your Country) to Facebook on 7 November. "Within hours," as Andy Morgan writes, " the song had lit up the bleak and fearful horizon like an incendiary bomb." Here it is with English subtitles.


"Leave" by Ramy Essam, with lyrics comprising all the most popular chants and slogans of the revolution heard on the streets. This song became the hit of the uprising, going viral on YouTube. Essam lived in Tahrir Square's tent village for the entire revolution, composing songs, and playing almost every hour on one of the many stages that sprouted there.


"Egyptian Intifada", the lyrics written by the poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, sung by Sheik Imam.


Egyptian folk act El Tanbura and others from the El Mastaba Centre for Egyptian Folk Music filmed in the streets of Cairo with a cut titled "Tahrir Square Jam".


"Rebel" by Egyptian rappers Arabian Knightz, sung in English, its lyrics rewritten by the group's Karim Adel Eissa, aka A-Rush, on the night of Thursday 27 January.


Cairo rock luminaries Amir Eid, Hany Adel and Sherif Mostafa with their rousing anthem to the revolution "Sout Al Horeya" (The Voice of Freedom).


Iraqi rapper Narcicyst with other MCs from the Arabic rap diaspora in North America, including Omar Offendum, Freeway, Ayah and Amir Sulaiman, with "#Jan25" – a reference to both the date the protests began in Egypt, and its prominence as a trending topic on Twitter.


"Ezzai" by one of Egypt's best-known musicians, Mohamed Mounir.

Check out my podcast in which I discuss/play the music that fueled the Arab Uprisings:

1 comment:

  1. I heard the El General song this afternoon on NPR and had to immediately look it up. What an amazing song and a brave artist. It's not very often the a single piece of poetry can be linked to a tide of revolution, to the righting of injustices. As an American, it's inspiring to have a piece of music I can point to as a moral example in the Islamic world, an argument against all those who support a modern Crusade.

    It's especially potent to have him stand up for the rights of women. Does El General have an album available for purchase? Is he free, or is he still held captive?


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