Despite his viral 2020 hit ‘Sheraton’, Egyptian rapper Marwan Moussa kept a relatively low throughout last year, appearing on only a handful of tracks (and one out-of-the-blue ASUS laptop advertisement) while maintaining a fairly minimal social media presence, all of which made the release of his latest album, Florida, all the more intriguing.
Unfortunately, Moussa seems to have fallen into a trap that is all too common for underground artists in MENA. By and large, Florida comes across as something of a one-note album, with similar beats recycled across all 13 tracks to the point of near indistinguishability. While an argument can be made for this being an intentional artistic choice, it seems that Florida has been given far too much impetus from the trap/chaabi sound pioneered on ‘Sheraton’ - a song that was indeed viral, but far from Moussa’s best.
Lyrically speaking, the rapper’s penchant for catchy hooks is largely absent, his usual witty wordplay too often replaced by cheesy one-liners like “she got that drip like Dasani.” Drinking Butler's gin, mixing Fanta and codeine, the TV show Peaky Blinders and meals at upscale Cairo restaurant, SACHI, are amongst the references that only serve to paint it as an album with few stories to tell.
Listening through Florida, it seems that something fundamental has been lost in Moussa’s hasty career transition from underground, socially conscious rapper, to internet pseudo-celebrity. The beats and bars are — in a word — fine, but as a whole the album lacks a sense of ambition or drive; it offers little of substance, instead coming across as a celebration of excess.
That’s not to say that Florida, or any album by any artist, needs to have some ‘deeper’ message in order to resonate. As far as bangers go, however, the rest of the album doesn’t even live up to ‘Sheraton’ and guest appearances from fellow Egyptian rapper, R3, Saudi Arabia’s Randa and Morocco’s Stormy have little impact on an ultimately unfulfilling album from one of Egypt’s most popular rappers.
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