As one of the most influential rappers in Egypt’s music scene, Marwan Pablo has paved the way for the genre to reach mainstream appeal throughout his hit releases and widespread appeal. Notorious for his frequent hiatuses, the rapper has become somewhat of an enigma, and fans have been patiently waiting for the release of his highly anticipated album ‘The Last Piece of Art’, as rumours of its production have been circulating long before its official announcement earlier this year.

Having just been released today on streaming platforms, the album sees Pablo delivering a polished version of his beloved blend of psychedelic trap, shaabi beats and commanding vocal performances, while simultaneously taking opportunities to explore more experimental sonics in some sections of the LP.

Cutting right to the chase on the intro track, ‘AMAN (Intro)’, we get a sense of the album’s direction, as Pablo takes on more melodic sensibilities, going into a mawal-inspired solo vocal performance, which morphs into his characteristic laid back rap flows as a minimal drum grooves comes in to pick up the pace of the song.

Pablo then takes a sudden turn on the track ‘Daheya’, which makes use of a classical guitar sample, where slow paced kick drums are heard banging away between the sparse percussion hits, over which Pablo’s belting vocals energize the song’s loose flow and steady momentum. The album also features remasters of fan favourite tracks ‘Lelly Yah (prod. by Marwan Pablo and Mohaimen)’ and ‘El Helal (prod. by Marwan Pablo and Hady Moamer).

However, the album holds more surprises in store, as with the track ‘Matafetch’, which starts out with a noisier sonic palette than we are accustomed to on a Marwan Pablo track, leading the way into a silky smooth instrumental, grounded by a submerged baseline, and enriched by a warm electric piano performance.

On ‘DDDD’, Pablo looks to tried-and-true trap production elements such as plucky keys and a massive bassline, on top of which he lays his processed vocals that take over the first leg of the track, which are then overtaken by crystal clear and charismatic vocal delivery. Later on, in the track ‘Melodies’, Pablo shows off his production chops as he looks to reversed textures, rubbery 808s, and a washed out saxophone performance to establish the smoky atmosphere of the track, which his laid back rap flows fit snugly into. The songwriting here also shows Pablo displaying a sense of maturity, as the rapper’s introspective verses give more insight into his elusive personality.

The energy of the album then picks up on ‘Ala3ib (skit)’, produced by Hady Moamer, in which a playful and punchy drum loop and an infectious flow heighten the LP’s energy, before ‘Ich Liebe Es’ (ft. ALA) comes in with a moody instrumental, highlighted by the contrast between Pablo’s energetic vocals and ALA’s deeper register.

The album then veers into shaabi-trap territory with ‘El Mabda2’ (prod. by Marwan Pablo and Hady Moamer) and ‘Masr7ya’ (prod. by Hady Moamer), which lean into mahraganat aesthetics with speaker-rattling sustained bass notes, active percussions and energetic vocal performances.

The album comes to a close with the track ‘HANET (Outro)’, where huge synth pads and dense production deliver a cinematic end to the album, which may stand as Pablo’s most ambitious and refined release to date.

Listen to ‘The Last Piece of Art’ here: