Thursday, December 16, 2004

Egyptian Loving

Having listened to heaps of bhangra and desi over the past couple of years, it wasn't such a stretch to fall in love with shaabi while on a recent diving holiday in Egypt.
Literally meaning "of the people", shaabi is real, genuine Arabic street music—the sort of stuff people dance and let off a little steam to.
From what little I know about it, it's hugely underrated, too.
The guy in the CD shop we went to didn't even want us to buy any of it, steering us in the direction of the classical section and saying it was: "music for cab drivers, waiters and disreputable people."
Of course, as with any other genre, plenty of it is pretty bad, with the same cloying cabaret tendency found in the bulk of Algerian rai. But an equal amount is spectacular, pitching soca's good-time bounce against the most pristeen Middle Eastern instrumentation and packed with hooks any bubblegum pop songwriter would be proud of.
Take this track by Hesham Abbas for instance—you plain won't get to hear anything more exhuberant and infectious. Best heard extremely loud in speeding death-trap taxis.

Habib'k Ana - Hesham