This session of THiNK 2013, ‘Youth, Music and Rebellion â An Egypt Story’ brought together Nariman El Bakry, PR executive of the legendary Cairo Jazz Club, the politically engaged rapper Karim Adel Essa and Nusrat Durrani, executive producer of the MTV Rebel Music Series. They discussed how music captured the thoughts and day-to-day struggles of ordinary people during the Egyptian Revolution, channeling the physical displays of rebellion into what they called ‘thought revolution’.
Durrani discussed the motive behind Rebel Music,Â his six-part documentary series, which explored the junction of youth, music and political protest in Egypt, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Mexico and Mali. He emphasised that the âthe mainstream narrative of countries in turmoil is a bit one dimensional, and the world could benefit with a nuanced understanding of what is happening in these countriesâ. Music in Egypt conveyed the energy and diversity of the protests, as Durrani described the âhousewives with babies on the streets, the musicians, businessmen and cab drivers in the streets, a very empowered citizenry, voting with their feetâ.
El Bakry discussed the intricate link between Tahrir Square and the creation of a space for emerging musicians from all social classes. âWith the Revolution, people were coming together to express themselves, and expression is where art comes from â people are able to connect with one another, music bridges the gapsâ. Although not all emerging bands focus on political content, she noticed that people are more empowered to express themselves and transcend genres and stereotypes.
Adel Essa agreed that the Revolution provided a space for another type of music to emerge. After describing ‘habibi music’, the popular love songs which dominate the Middle East and invariably include the word ‘habibi’ [darling] in their lyrics, Adel Essa rapped away some couplets which highlighted corruption and political hypocrisy. A vivid testament to the political and social complexities of a post-Mubarak Egypt.
By Sara Sudetic