After releasing a couple of singles, the Egyptian-American rapper and producer Loay Katarya released his debut EP. Titled Monsters, Katarya’s debut runs a healthy 18 minutes, spanning 6 songs. The lo-fi vibes permeate the music courtesy of a solid vision on Katarya’s side and a terrific execution from Memphis Records’ Ibrahim Tolba on the production duty. The drums are consistently punchy and the mixes make each song shine in a unique way, yet keeping a uniform identity flows throughout the 6 tunes.

As mentioned earlier, each song of the 6 has something that makes it stand out. The intro ‘Control’ for example hasn’t got a drum line in any conventional fashion, instead opting for utilizing a line of consistent trap hi-hats on top of a smooth sub bass part in support of Katarya’s rapped verse. The song also features a wealth of keyboards, ranging from dramatic grand piano sections to processed synth lines in its dynamic arrangement. Loay sings of “monsters controlling him”, alluding to his ADHD affecting his behavior against his will. ‘Satisfied’ stands out by somehow maintaining its engagingness while containing very little motion. The composition is built around a shimmering guitar arpeggio, courtesy of Youssef Nazmy playing along the song’s two chords, and a beat built around laid-back claps, while Katarya’s soulful but depressive take floats on top of the arrangement.

The album’s 3rd cut ‘Heat’ features another sad piano-based, and minimalistic composition, but what sets it apart is a lively vocal delivery from Katarya that sees him venture to the higher registers for the first time in the album so far. His lines are also snaky and melodic, showcasing a good voice and control. Time features a snappy sounding drum part that carries the song confidently forward starting from its second half, and together with this song’s melodic and more hasty vocal delivery make its latter half one of the whole album’s more outstanding moments. The album closer ‘Goodbye’ is a mostly acoustic guitar ballad that’s sung from the heartfelt stance of preparing to leave the country, leaving an old life behind and wishing he can say goodbye to all of those who cut him out of their lives.

Katarya’s debut EP is a showcase of a rising talent’s abilities as a songwriter, singer, and rapper. But more than that it’s a showcase of Loay Katarya’s bravery in exposing his vulnerabilities and making a heartfelt stance with them. He says: “He does not shy away from being sad and he does not try to mask his bad experiences, quite the opposite in fact. In his own words, Katarya makes songs he cries to.