Over the past few years, the sonic landscape in the MENA region has witnessed a surge of young rising artists, with an abundance of rap currently dominating the scene. Now, LA-based Egyptian artist Bayou is spearheading a new wave of Egyptian R&B.

Born to Egyptian parents in Jeddah, and raised in Dubai before moving to the US to pursue his education, the 21-year-old singer and songwriter was never short of references to play with when it came to his compositions. Though he spent most of his life abroad, Bayou remained in touch with his heritage, whether through music, regular visits to his homeland, or the amount of koshari he eats.

Drawing inspiration from both classic Arab music and the Western beats that shaped his musical upbringing, Bayou has crafted a sound that transcends borders. In his tracks, the young artist delivers a sensual blend of Arabic and English lyrics wrapped in silky vocals, which showcases his multicultural identity and evokes a nostalgic atmosphere. Think PartyNextDoor but with a Middle Eastern twist. A Hefla next door maybe?

Interestingly Bayou’s path to music wasn’t straightforward. Formerly a professional football player, his promising athletic career was cut short by a torn ACL. It was then that Bayou rediscovered his passion for music, ultimately leading him to where he is today.

Having made his breakthrough in 2019 with ‘Moonlight’, which garnered over 1.5 million streams, the genre-bending vocalist has since been on a whirlwind journey around the world. Amongst his most notable works are ‘Dodie and Diana’ - an ode to the romance between the late Princess Diana and Egyptian film producer Dodi Fayed - as well as ‘Egyptian Wifey’ and ‘Casablanca’, one of the many tracks he released with his long-term friend, Palestinian-Alegrianian artist Saint Levant.

On one of his many voyages to Cairo, we met up with Bayou in the House of Kheops, sheltered in the shadows of the Great Pyramids of Giza, where we talked about how his Egyptian heritage influences his work, the joy of imbuing Arab sounds in his music, and how he wields his voice to make a global impact on the music scene.