Music video making within the Egyptian rap scene has steadily evolved in the past couple of years with 2018 witnessing a boom of music video releases. This proves that the Egyptian scene is starting to grasp the impact that good music videos have on creating a popular movement, even if the videos made aren’t necessarily new in concept or well executed. 

“Azrael" (عزرائيل) is Abyusif’s latest music video since he dropped the video for Thanos. One question troubled me when Abyusif announced that he’s making a video for “Azrael”, and it was a question of how will he be able to visualize the message behind this song given the amount of wordplay, persistent innuendos and escalating intensity. But the video managed to surpass my expectations. 

It starts out with Youssef Altay aka Abyusif’s voice on a black screen, as if the viewer has their eyes closed and opens them to begin looking for him, simulated by the camera panning randomly from a high vantage point and stopping when it finds him, seemingly by chance, walking down the street and directing his verses straight to the lens like a madman, traffic passing him, and grabbing the attention of everyone around him in the process. This once again goes on to confirm Abyusif’s status as a rebel, and perhaps even a little deranged; something he points out himself before running out of the frame.

The search of Abyusif continues and his multiple personas start appearing everywhere; streets, balconies, windows, rooftops. This reminds me a little of when he came up with new names for himself, like Hani on his first album and Mazen on his latest track. In every single location he appears in the video he tends to portray a different character: Hani, Essam, Pinocchio, Abyusif, Abyu, Mazen. However, the real Usif Altay was the man walking down the street. 

I couldn’t have imagined the video turning out so well; I imagined something more confrontational, aggressive and self-centered given the context of his music and his constant attempts to rule over the rap game. However Wael Alaa (Neobyrd), the director of the video, managed to stray from the song’s lyrical direction and focus more on Abyusif’s unpredictable personality,  that seemingly prevents him from staying in one place for too long, quite literally physically and musically; a quality of freeing schizophrenia that makes him appealing to his listeners.

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