My Generation Knows What's What

By Ehab Abdelhamid
Translated by Humphrey Davies

Each generation makes its own rules, and dances to the beat of its own drum. That drum for this generation is Mahraganat music, or music of “festivals.” Ehab Abdelhamid discusses the changes and struggles experienced by young Mahraganat singers who challenge political and artistic stagnation with their songs, and “the gate-keepers” who set the rules. Mahraganat music gives a voice to this young generation and can be seen as the ‘soundtrack’ of Egypt’s streets, a cry of rebellion against the music of the previous generation. Much influenced by shaabi music, Mahraganat music includes the themes of betrayal, love, friendship, and values of honor and sincerity, as well as themes of rebellion, struggle, and challenge.

Despite which, rebelliousness alone will not be enough. Rebelliousness is enough to release the cry, but maintaining that cry needs a lot of effort. Mahraganat music is evolving, albeit slowly. It is sorting the chaff from the straw, trying to benefit from the poetics of rap and setting them to work in more joyous songs, songs more in harmony with today’s Egyptian ear. We may well witness along with this more original, rather than recycled, music.

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