It’s been interesting six months or so for Egyptian rap royal, Abyusif. A starring role alongside rapping compatriot, Marwan Pablo, in a big, national ad campaign confirmed his ascension into the mainstream, though a complete purge of his YouTube account in March raised eyebrows, particularly in light of Pablo doing likewise, but amidst a narrative of the Alexandrian quitting music.

Luckily, Abyusif doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon and he’s released the first single from his upcoming album, Makeena, which will be his first album release since 2019’s kaleidoscopic ‘Tamam’.

Showing a more vulnerable but typically defiant side, ‘Kol 7aga Bteb2a Gham2a’ (everything becomes dark), kicks off with an auto-tuned Abyusif singing melancholically. “It comes all of a sudden, everything becomes dark/Everything becomes quiet, God I’m living under your guard,” are the opening lines, as the rapper looks for a strength and sustenance during times of fear and anxiety.

The track, which Abyusif also produced, builds anxiously against the vocals, before twisting into a trap beat at around 50 seconds in. Things are dialled up several notches, however, when the sound of heavy, strained breathing bridges into a gritty, grimy mid-section. It’s here that we feel the full force of Abyusif’s raps, before things come full circle with another sung verse.

Where does this line-up in the annals of Abyusif? It’s not the earth-shattering, bro-have-you-heard-this return one might have expected. But it is a raw and personal first release from the album and if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Abyusif over the years , it's to expect the unexpected.

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