Band of the week: Sadat and Alaa Fifty

I’ll never forget the first time I watched mahragan singer/MC Sadat El Alamy perform on stage, almost a year ago at the iconic downtown Cairo club After Eight. I was blown away. The 27-year-old musician’s dizzying dance moves fluidly shift between robotic motions, waist-whirling belly dancing, and hip-hoppin two-steps. Whether dancing or just straight spitting game into the mic, Sadat is a true performer – he’s the kind of artist that consciously or unconsciously will have every listener in the room jumping to try and replicate his every movement and each intonation of his lyrics.

In the past couple of years alone, Sadat has been booked for more international gigs that most musicians in mahragan music. Traveling a long way from his hometown of Salam City, Sadat has seen stages in countries all over Europe including France and Switzerland, and soon he’ll be in Germany. Meanwhile, he’s collaborated with a wide spectrum of musicians Egypt’s underground sonic sphere from rapper MC Amin, to acoustic instrumentalists. His versatility, dynamism and power-punching lyrical capabilities are prolific and remarkably relatable for most Egyptian youth.

But some of his best work as of late is with his collaborations with fellow mahragan musician Alaa Fifty Cent, which can be heard on their digital mixtape, “Best of Sadat & Alaa Fifty Cent,” released in October 2013. The 14-track compilation ranges between hard-knock political tracks like “Five Pounds Credit” to the danceable cacophony of shaabi and electronic noise in “Enjex.” In the former, the duo’s lyrics are aggressive, with reconstructed protest chants like “The people want the regime to fall/The people are tired” atop percussive doff-beats, high-hats and hypnotically synthetic background bleeps. In other more rhythmic and speedy tracks, such as “Enjex,” the duo proves time and again their ability to produce both aggressive, rap-based compositions in addition to dance-floor anthems.

Maha ElNabawi 

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