Over the past decade and a half, we’ve witnessed an influx of Western artists choosing to have their music videos take place in a country within the MENA region, and the majority of these artists tend to fall within the electronic music or hip hop genres. From the likes of Xzibit, The Chemical Brothers, M.I.A to most recently Major Lazer, The Blaze and Cardi B, more and more artists and directors continue showing interest in setting their music videos in regional locations that get little-to-no exposure.
Sevaio Mook, aka Sevn Alias, is a Dutch rapper born to Surinamese/Antillean parents and raised amongst Dutch-Moroccan youth. Today, his sound is very influenced by his upbringing, utilising Moroccan words in his lyrics and song titles. In fact, one of his gold-certified singles was entitled ‘Kifesh’ which is Moroccan for ‘why’. On the other hand, Arabic culture was much more embedded in Joost Theo Sylvio Yussef Abdelgalil, aka Josylvio, in a much more direct way as he’s born to a Dutch mother and an Egyptian father and visited Egypt nearly every summer growing up.
Both artists started collaborating together in 2015, releasing tracks like ‘Le7nesh’, ‘Abu Dhabi’, ‘Meters’, ‘Rainbow’, ‘Miami Iz A Ridah’, ‘West’, ‘Closer’ and their newest collabo, ‘Mag Het FF Lekker Gaan’ which translates from Dutch into something roughly similar to ‘Can We Live A Little?’. 1OAK Entertainment, the label behind this release couldn’t have picked a more appropriate director to put together a music video for Sevn and Josylvio’s newest track. Sharif AbdelMawla is an Egyptian born and raised in Amsterdam and has been directing for the past two to three years, working on videos for artists like Belgian rapper Darrell Cole.
“The song made me think of traditional Egyptian folklore dances, like Tahtib and Tanoura. To do it right, I had to go to Egypt,” Sharif told us. The video was shot in the outskirts of Cairo and the 6th of October district, and features extras ranging from a gang of old men in traditional Jalabiyyas to young crew of what you might call young, topless 'chavs' with gelled up hair and acid wash skinny jeans. The senior crew is filmed surrounding Alias in the beginning followed by the younger extras appearing in Josylvia’s verse.
While the build up of the video sends carries this notion of an epic fight about to break out between the Jalabiyyas and the youths, it soon descends into joyful Tahtib and Tanoura routines from professionals, clearly. One question that occupied my mind while watching it was, do the extras - apart from the youngsters - know what they’re signing up for, given perhaps their limited knowledge of rap and hip hop?
“Sometimes I explained the concept, but I wanted to avoid overacting to be honest. So I just gave them instructions of what they had to do in the scene and they followed,” the director explained. Impressively, video was shot in the span of four days just over a week ago, including a day of arrival and a day or location scouting. “Sevn and Josylvio were guys that didn’t mind waking up at 4:30 AM to shoot since the sun goes down at 6 PM in Egypt, so we had to start really early to shoot everything in daylight.”
Abdel Mawla seems very pleased with the outcome of such a rushed project and he’s completely justified in that as cinematography and overall end product is very pleasant to watch. He also seems eager to come back and shoot in his motherland once again, and we’re definitely eager to see more of his work.
Follow Sevn Alias on Facebook.
Follow Sharif Abdel Mawla on Vimeo.