Having gained popularity through their fusion of pop, rock, reggae, and rap, the Egyptian group Sharmoofers have grown to become one of the most beloved alt-pop groups in the region.
To mark their ten-year-anniversary, the band has been rolling out their new album ‘Caravan’, with the release of the title track earlier in January, followed by the Afrobeats-inspired, ‘Je Suis Malade’, which dropped last week.
The group has been expanding their musical curiosity with these releases, leaning into the Afrobeats trend that is permeating everything from hip-hop to Arabic pop. In ‘Je Suis Malade’, this combines with a guitar-heavy sound to contrast the Arabic sample heard in the dance-driven track, ‘Caravan’.
Instead, ‘Je Suis Malade’ feels to be a song about love and loss. It carries a hint of Arabic flavour, as the track opens with a gentle oud melody playing alongside a toy-piano-like instrument, which slightly shifts the track into the lo-fi territory. As the full beat comes in, Sharmoofers deliver a smooth Afrobeats instrumental, rich with rhythmic and percussive elements, and a heartfelt guitar performance by the group’s Mohamed El Farra.
In the track, singer Ahmed Bahaa takes a new vocal approach with a stylistically-auto-tuned performance. Bahaa also explores different vocal affectations in this track, providing colour through his lyrics that address love, longing and distance, adding somberness to the upbeat instrumental.
Directed by Omar Donga, the music video shows an outdoor performance of the band as they are casually gathered around a tree with their instruments. Just as the song begins to play, the video shifts focus, introducing us to an older man holding a mirror in the shape of the map of Palestine. This narrative direction is open to interpretation and could re-contextualize the track’s lyrics if taken metaphorically, as the lyrics could also be interpreted as addressing the land of Palestine itself. Shots of the band’s performance are then mixed in between flashbacks of the older man reliving past experiences as he dwells over his unresolved memories.
Listen to Sharmoofers' 'Je Suis Malade' here: