Mahraganat lets Egyptians say the unsayable


The revolution in Egypt that would eventually see Hosni Mubarak run out of Presidential office and lead to the country’s first democratic elections began three years ago, on the 25th of January 2011. That day an MC named Sadat, then aged 24, was among the hundreds of thousands protesting on the streets of Cairo, looking for change. When he got home that night, Sadat couldn’t sleep.

“I started writing, and the next day I went to Figo’s house to write and compose the song,” he explains with the help of a translator, sat in a back room at the Rinse FM studios in east London. “It was about corruption and killing and everything that I had witnessed.”

Sadat, along with his collaborator DJ Figo and a handful of others, was already at the forefront of an underground dance music scene which many people call “electro chaabi” (which roughly translates as “electro folk”) but which he’d rather you call “mahraganat” (“festivals”), because he thinks of it as something new, and not just an electro version of the music that’s gone before.

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