Egyptian band Cairokee has announced that four songs from its upcoming album have not been approved by Egypt’s Censorship Board. In a Sunday statement on its Facebook page, the band wrote that the album will not be commercially released in its full form given the board’s decision.
The censored songs include lyrics about “everyday life, our problems as young people, social media and what we see on TV – our usual topics,” said 33-year-old frontman and songwriter Amir Eid, who doesn’t think any of the content is particularly controversial. “If anything, I feel, as a songwriter, that I didn’t say everything I wanted to say.”
It is a standard practice for the Censorship Board to review songs before commercial release, but Cairokee, whose rise to fame came as a result of their politically inspired music, has not had songs blocked before.
Set for release on July 11, No’ta Beida (A Drop of White) will be the five-member band’s seventh album, following 2015’s Nas W Nas. The title track was released as a single in May and has been viewed over 880,000 times on YouTube.
On Wednesday, days after a sold-out show on July 1 as part of London’s Shubbak Festival that featured teasers from the new album, Eid told Mada Masr that the band was not given an official reason for the Censorship Board’s decision.
“We don’t know the real reason,” he said. “It’s possible the album won’t be released commercially at all.” He added that the matter is currently being handled by the band’s lawyers.
While the Censorship Board has objected to the use of certain words in the past, in this case they objected to the release of entire songs, Eid said.
One of the songs that was not approved by the board, which is titled Al-Keif (The High), tackles youth drug use. Ironically, Eid says, the band was contacted by the Social Solidarity Ministry’s drug use prevention and treatment program, which asked if it could use the song in an upcoming media campaign.
“We will continue with our initial plan and release the full album online,” said Eid, cautioning that he did not want to overstate the issue. “We have our own parallel world in which we operate. Our fans are all online, and that’s that.”
“The good news is that we’ll keep going, and our music will remain free,” read the band’s Facebook statement. “It will be available on the internet and on digital stores, with visuals for each song.”
Although formed in 2009, Cairokee became widely known during the 2011 revolution, after it recorded the song Sout al-Horreya (The Voice of Freedom), which some protesters took up as an anthem. The song was subsequently picked up by radio stations and TV channels.
The band has since collaborated with prominent figures in the region’s music industry, including Algerian singer Souad Massi and late Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm.
Its latest album includes a collaboration with vocalist Abel Rahman Rushdy, who is known for his sufi style of singing.