Recently, regional streaming app Anghami established an Arabic rap section run by Big Hass, the charismatic presenter of the biggest hip hop radio show in Saudi Arabia.
One of Anghami’s latest works contributing to the growth of the rap scene is Cypher, an idea by Big Hass to gather nine regional rappers and make them collaborate to the productions of Sandhill along scratching from DJ Lethal Skillz.
The artists are Saudi rapper Shiboba, Syrian-American hip-hop artist Omar Offendum, Syrian artist Bu Kolthoum, Algerian-Canadian singer/songwriter Meryem Saci, Iraqi-Canadian multimedia artist Narcy, Iraqi-British hip-hop artist Lowkey,
Lebanese rapper Edd Abbas, Egyptian hip-hop artist Deeb, and Palestinian rapper Muqata’a.
The video was shot in nine different cities around the region with the vision of Big Hass and the direction and editing by Raed Al Muraish. The scene I loved the most in the video is the one featuring Muqata’a, showing how Arabic rap is an influencing factor in the cultural awareness for the people in the region against oppression. Deeb's scene came off a little weaker, in my opinion; I wanted him to make his appearance in Cairo traffic, more than in empty places, but maybe the difficulty of filming in Cairo is what prevented this.
When it comes to the music, who doesn’t love the old school rap sound that takes us back to the golden age, which is exactly what Sandhill did through his use of sampling and lo-fi drums. I also can’t forget to mention DJ Lethal Skillz’ scratching prowess that created a unique edge for the Cypher. According to Big Hass, this is the first of a series of Cyphers on Anghami, and he gave us exclusive info about the coming one, which will be more new school.
Each and every one of these nine rappers succeeded in shedding a spotlight on themselves amongst the other rappers, as everyone used his performance and lyrics to reflect his personality. Bu Kolthoum made a special appearance that is in a way different than his previous tracks, moving out of boombap.
Despite my personal disagreement with Arabic rappers who rap in English, I can’t neglect the role of Lowkey, Narcy, Meryem Saci and Omar Offendum in the video, who gave it an international edge and opened up the cypher to people who don't speak Arabic. Their level of performance was up to international standards and went well with the music. Overall, the most brilliant performance was Narcy’s. I was expecting that Meryem’s singing would be a bit different than usual, especially that she had a lot more to give in my opinion in this cypher.
Another problem in the track was the sound mix that affected Shiboba’s performance, as his vocals were not clear because of the musical chaos around it. Though some of the rappers in this video haven't been releasing music recently, this does not reduce the quality of this Cypher.
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