Banning Eyre of NPR and Afropop worldwide was in Cairo this past summer, and did a nice piece for NPR (October 4) on music coming from Egypt's streets. Listen to it, or read it, here.
He calls attention to a couple of great dj's from Cairo's popular quarters. First, check out this guy, DJ Islam Chipsy. (In Egyptian colloquial, "chipsy" is slang for chips, i.e., potato chips.) This is amazing stuff, and as Chipsy tells Eyre, this is DJ'ing with a real Egyptian rhythm. One of the many remarkable things about this live clip is that this is recorded at some party or event in what is clearly one of Egypt's popular quarters. Next time I'm in Egypt, I want to go to that party.
This clip of Chipsy shows him playing at El Azhar Park. The recording is not as good as that of the first, but Chipsy really gets the crowd going. Notice the woman (who appears to be somewhat elderly) in higaab who is dancing! Here Chipsy's keyboard playing at times reminds me of the sound of a calliope. And I'm more impressed by the two drummers accompanying him (Khaled Mando and Islam To'to'), probably in part because you can see them better here than in the first video.
Here's another vid from the same concert. And there are lots more, that you can find if you search using the Arabic, اسلام شيبسى.
Eyre also mentions another artist, DJ Amr Haha, from Ain Shams, who I had heard previously. I think his stuff is really incredible, very loud, intense, autotuned, hypnotically repetitive sha'abi Egyptronica.
There is a lot of his stuff on youtube. Check out this track, identified simply as عمروحاحا 2010. Note how many hits it has. As of this viewing, 186,600. Some people are paying attention.
Here's another Ha Ha track, from August 2010, identified just as عمرو حاحا الجديد.
664,737 hits for this one. There are lots of Haha vids out there, just search for عمرو حاحا.
Here's a link to an article by Ola El-Saket, "The Shaabi music breakthrough," from Al-Masry Al-Youm (October 22), which discusses the emergence of this brand of Egyptian sha'abi music (she calls it "shaabi techno") in the early 2000s. These artists emerged, El-Seket says, as cheaper alternatives to hiring singers and dancing to perform at weddings in popular quarters. Eventually the artists started to hold street festivals as well, aimed primarily at young men in the popular quarters. There is a dispute between Amr Haha and Sallam City's DJ Figo (who I posted about last month, identifying him as DJ Vigo) over which of them invented the "shaabi techno" genre.
El-Saket also writes that "Shaabi music is very similar to rap and hip hop in terms of its inception, and the songs are not free from populist views on social issues. Haha for instance tackles how security forces intimidate people in one of his songs, titled “Your ID, Punk!”...
Figo also played his famous track about the revolution, which mixes Omar Suleiman’s famous 11 February speech with a techno beat."
(Hopefully I can find these tracks in future.)
Other names mentioned as part of this sha'abi techno trend are Alaa Fifty, Al-Sadat Rap, Wezza and Benzina. Hopefully I can find some youtube vids of these artists in future. In the meantime: you look!