Yep, this album is everything but Electro Chaabi! The title is misleading for a very deliberate reason and one that I can personally understand and relate to.
As Hussein told me during an online convo’ with him:
“There’s a very specific reason why it’s called “ELECTRO CHAABI” . There’s a very strong message behind that move, specifically, the electro CHAABI bit in Etneet arba3a.”
He further went on to say;
“I am a huge supporter of the Electro Chaabi movement and I consider it one of the most organic art forms to come out of Cairo in the past 40 years. I just think that it’s unfair to not consider the alternative electronic scene in Cairo to be as organic if not more progressive. It’s very easy for the west to label my music as “industrial” “bass” “techno” because it doesn’t have the generic basic oriental elements that have been overused in the past decades. It’s like If i want the western attention now a days I have to make some really cheap beats and add some “oud” or “qanoun” and have some oriental logo with arabic calligraphy. And not just to the west, even to the Egyptian crowd, if I don’t have basic oriental elements in my music it’s not accessible to the public. The only western influence in my music is the fact that I’m very aware of music technology and the history of music production. I also tend to push the limits of production trends as opposed to just sticking with the basic stuff so I can fit in that specific segment/description “Egyptian/Exotic/Authentic” whatever you wanna call it. This is a message directed at the alternative and commercial scene in Cairo first and the western orientalist enthusiasts second. There’s this trend in the media industry where everyone just caters to the audience because they claim that the audience is just not intelligent enough to understand anything slightly sophisticated. I think that’s bullshit, that’s just the media industry being too lazy. The only reason why the audience might not appreciate sophisticated art is because they’ve been force-fed all this mainstream garbage for the longest time.”
So, the album title is in part a protest against the western orientalist hipsters who turn their nose up at anything from the Middle East without any basic oriental elements. It’s this frustration that feeds the album title and some of the content.
It’s a message trying to convey that the West is paying too much attention to certain types of music from the Middle East, Electro Chaabi and belatedly, dusty old disco & funk records. That it is seemingly and unfairly turning a deaf ear to the progressive Electronic sounds that are coming from the same place, like those contained within this album.
On “Etneen arba3a” which translates as “2-4”, Hussein challenges that Western hipsterism directly when he says:
“If I cared about the western world’s opinion I’d have made CHAABI and called it electro CHAABI so they’d like it and buy it. Would that be authentic?”
In addition to this critique, the album also makes many references to the commercial and independent Egyptian music scenes. In other passages of the same track Hussein turns his attention to his country’s music scene, the music industry in general and also Red Bull:
“Put any word after any word you’ll find the sentences forming. Franco-Arabic logo cuz the crowd failed Arabic grammar. We’re gonna add oud and qanoun to Deadmau5e, Om Kalthoum to Deep house
Ideas from 2004, we’ve definitely reached a new level
Innovation is for the farm let’s stay at this basic level
We’ll finish some crap for anyone who’ll buy it and if we have some remaining we’ll re-release it next year and when the people finally get bored with it we’ll just get rid of it.
1,2,3 we’ll sing Tata Tata
5,6,7 lets sell some energy drinks
8,9,10 or maybe even facial cream
I get depressed after the headlines
My dreams have all been shattered
Nothing that I’ll ever do will be appreciated if it’s not cheap or copied from something else
I don’t want 10k and not even above 10k
I’ve been watching a generation going rotten ever before 2010″
On other songs on the album, this continuing frustration re-appears throughout, pretty much in the same vein as the Western dance scene’s utter disgust at EDM in America and worship of the false idols who fly that flag.
The album is a riveting listen and is full of the trademark Hussein Sherbini sound, once before described by me as:
“A dark, broody, cinematic sound scape of epic apocalyptic proportions”!
The album is full of deep, dark atmospheres rooted in distorted industrial beats, stark sound collages, dreamesque voices, ambient passages and Hip Hop, all wrapped around some heavy earth-shaking Techno & Bass theatrics.
This is a very important album, perhaps one of the most important albums to emerge from the Egyptian Underground in recent years in conceptual and musical terms. I just hope that West will turn off its Hipsterism for a moment and pay it some serious attention and listen to the message being conveyed and same goes for the Middle East.
Grab it for free now!
Also check out the great video for the track “Mostawa”: