Category Archives: egypt

NUBIAN DIGITALS

This time next week I’ll be getting ready to hop aboard Royal Air Maroc and zip over to the top of Africa. 12 hours left on our Beyond Digital: Kickstarter, and the support has been phenomenal.

Here an Arabic-language treat from Nubian singer Ali Hassan Kuban, featuring sweet early Auto-Tune on the vocals! Adapted from a traditional Bedouin song, “Gammal” (‘Camel Driver’) is a good track to play for the Auto-Tune skeptics. How can they resist? From his 2001 album Real Nubian: Cairo Wedding Classics.

Ali Hassan Kuban 2

[Ali Hassan Kuban]

Have a safe journey, my love will travel with you. Come back, let’s be together again soon.

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Ali Hassan Kuban – Gammal feat. Shahin Allam

SAAIDI HARDCORE

mutamassik

Eddie Stats got it right in this week’s Ghetto Palms over at The Fader: “I actually can’t think of a better soundtrack for this moment that’s unfolding in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia than the saaidi hardcore of my longtime (and I mean loooongtime) homegirl DJ Mutamassik.”

You’ll need to scroll down, but here’s an excerpt from Mutamassik on the making of her album — on the conditions in which it was made:

“…Going from a predominantly raw urban experience (see: childbirth on Medicaid in Brooklyn, many etcs.) to a raw, rough, rugged rural experience has taught me many things.

Let me give props where props are due: A decade plus+ in the streets of New York City and Cairo cut my teeth; half that time in Nature, however, has kicked my ass. Not just once, but continuously. This has been a boot camp. If inner city life made me hard, Nature made me harder. [. . .]
{The American gear (which 99% of our gear is, brought over from N.Y. on a ship with the entire $5,000 given to us by the U.S. government for being hard-working, poor and with child) is converted and stabilized by voltage transformers used by the U.S. military in the hairiest parts of Afghanistan–not proud, just real}. There is no central heating. We go deep into the forest to collect firewood, chop trees, burn burn burn. We make fires to stay warm (9 months out of 12). CAVEmen-style. . . Our only form of transportation has been our son’s stroller which we used well after he started walking to haul up large tanks of cooking gas. From it’s beginnings on Atlantic Avenue, and after many brutal years of international service as person, baggage, tank, garbage rickshaw, it has once again been recycled as a safe home for cats. {Note: None of this new or harsh to anyone but us city slickers/urbanites/suburbanites/industrialites}.

We have a relationship to Nature that is mostly not Soft, Ethereal, Romantic as somehow propagated by Dabbling-Vegan-Hallmark-Hippies, but rather Tense, Negotiating, Respectful…Intense. “

Bonus points if you have a copy of WAR BOOTY, her 12″ EP that I released on Soot a decade ago. Now a super sold out collectors item, the original vinyl came with rough cardboard record jackets that had the Arabic word for ‘soot’ branded into them. I lit two kitchens on fire doing it.

mutamassik war booty-SOOT004-001mutamassik war booty-SOOT004-001mutamassik war booty-SOOT004-001

Over here at Mudd, I’ve re-upped a classic Oum Koulsom MP3, head here to grab it. Of Koulsom, I wrote:

“…this incandescent Egyptian, whose songs move her listeners with tidal force, leading orchestras (composed of the usual suspects plus Abdel Wahab’s new friend: the electric guitar) in swooning iterations of song and theme, reacting to audience response/requests, cycling through stanzas for hours (Americans wouldn’t call it progress but we are certainly going somewhere, the same words or notes arrive but they mean different each time), emotional eddies make the river flow. Her popularity & impact remains vast, nearly compulsory, undemocratic.”

BIGGER THAN THE BEATLES

mudd revisited (original post was 4 years ago!):

Enta omry 1

we are dealing with the basics here: love and time.

“What we missed is not little,” sings Oum Kolthoum.

“Whatever I saw before my eyes saw you was a wasted life.”

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Oum Kolthoum – Enta Omri (86MB, 59 minutes)

A live version of one of the world’s classic love songs! In concert, Enta Omri could continue for hours. Ahmad Shafiq Kamil penned the lyrics and Mohamed Abdel Wahab wrote the music, which bypasses the ears to enter the heart directly.

West (Cornel not Kanye) and Ralph Waldo (Ellison not Emerson) compare jazz to democracy– individuals playing with and against a group dynamic, ready to improvise and comfortable with change. Imaginative, flexible, dedicated to making their abstract tools sing: a model of social organization.

Western orchestras, on the other hand, are conspicuously totalitarian: the fixed scores, the funny black suits, musicians forced to follow the strict leader at the top, utter suppression of individuality, etc.

I wonder what they’d say about this incandescent Egyptian, whose songs move her listeners with tidal force, leading orchestras (composed of the usual suspects plus Abdel Wahab’s new friend: the electric guitar) in swooning iterations of song and theme, reacting to audience response/requests, cycling through stanzas for hours (Americans wouldn’t call it progress but we are certainly going somewhere, the same words or notes arrive but they mean different each time), emotional eddies make the river flow. Her popularity & impact remains vast, nearly compulsory, undemocratic.

Thirty years after her death, Kolthoum still outsells many popular Egyptian artists. Take that, Elvis!

 

Ramadan’s over, Eid just came to a close. Today’s radio show – WFMU, 91.1 fm 7-8pm – will feature celebratory music from Muslim areas of Africa and beyond, as well as the usual helpings of new heat & decentertainment.