Is there a more versatile, fluid and surprising producer on Egypt’s music scene right now than El Waili? The Cairo-based music-maker has been riding the waves of a huge 2021, one that has seen him sign with Egyptian hip-hop label, El Batron, as well as pen a digital distribution deal with Saudi label, Wall of Sound Records, that has seen his music reach even more ears across the region.
These two milestones came off the back of a string of collaborations that have served to showcase the true scope and depth of musicality. Having first emerged with a psychedelic shaabi sound, El Waili has gone on to explore new musical territories in collaborations with the likes of Zaid Khaled and Idreesi of Jordan in ‘Ala Nar’ and Egyptian songstress, Donia Wael’, in '3asal' and '3dd El Sokan', the latter of which also featured Zaid Khaled.
For his latest release, he flies solo and while vocals can bring life to any instrumental, El Waili’s attention to detail shines through without. As a whole, ‘El Odissa’ doesn’t sit still through its run time and dips in and out between a kind of retrofuturistic ambient soundscape and a rousing hip-pop beat. All of it is sprinkled with Arab seasoning, but it’s the pacing, the ebbs and flows if you will, that shows him as a true musical storyteller. That story is largely down to the interpretation of the listener, but what El Wailii has provided - as he so often has and this time aided by fittingly trippy visuals from NUUN - is a rich, finely-crafted piece of work that invites you to imagine and maybe even escape.