West Coast American hip hop giants Cypress Hill have just released "Band of Gypsies", the newest single from their upcoming album Elephants on Acid which will mark their first release in eight years since Rise Up. What’s particularly interesting about ‘Band of Gypsies’ however is that it features none other that our own shaabi superstars, Sadat and Alaa ’50’.
This song is one of a kind, blending the Egyptian maw’wal with authentic West Coast hip hop. This mix is present from the very start of the song, with Sadat imploring in maw’wal style to his dealer, asking for a soft piece of hashish. We’re not used to such frankness from rappers when it comes to addressing the use of drugs, often hearing them preach about it’s presumed dangers instead.
The Arabic vibe of "Band of Gypsies" is very apparent throughout the track, produced by DJ Muggs. From the tabla-laced percussion, to the mizmar present from start to finish and even to the zaghrouta that rings in the background when B-Real makes his intro, the song presents itself as a sort of a laid back, psychedelic trip through the monotone world of Cairo. The chorus sung by Sadat and 50 does more to solidify this notion of psychedelia, with talk of mental bliss and a state of disorientation.
This high level collaboration should be considered a milestone for shaabi and mahraganat music as it serves as a portal for people in the US rap scene to witness the development and evolution of music in Egypt. It goes on to prove that there’s a new wave of young musicians rapping, singing mahraganat, and that these collaborations can result in a fresh sound, further breaking down boundaries of music.