Sadat and tuk-tuk in Sadat City (Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Mosa'ab Elshamy is one of the best, maybe the best, photographers in Egypt to emerge into global fame since the events at Tahrir in January-February 2011. Rolling Stone magazine has just published a set of his photos on Egypt's mahragan (AKA electro-shaabi) scene, and they are stunning. (There is text as well, unattributed.)
Mahragan in Rolling Stone? Yep, the genre is getting a level of international reputation and cred that is remarkable. It's a testimony both to the creativity and quality of the music as well as the interest that the so-called Arab Spring and its culture spawned in the West.
I'm not sure I like this description of the phenom: "the country's underground electro-rap uprising." Why "uprising"? Was rap, which Rolling Stone compares it to, an "uprising"? What did it overthrow? This issue, moreover, begs the question, not addressed in the text that accompanies the photos -- what is the relation between mahragan and politics in Egypt today, ever since Rabaa massacre of August 2013, the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, the military coup, and the emergence of the Sisi phenomenon? What about the fact that, on the third anniversary of the launch of the January 25 (political) uprising, 21 people protestors were killed in al-Matariya, one of the strongholds of mahragan, the popular quarter of the Eight Percent crew (Wizza, Ortega and Oka)?
Really, you'd think that at least some readers of the mag would want to know...
One more quibble: I keep insisting that the genre should be called mahragan (sing.) not mahraganat (plural). Someone please tell me why I'm wrong.
In any case, the photos are great, take a look.
And you can see more of Mosa'ab Elshamy's photos on flickr, and follow him on twitter via @mosaaberizing.