elcome to the Digital Meltd0wn Music Blog. The aim of this blog is to introduce the readers to music that is out of print, commercially unavailable, released under a creative commons license, or with approval by the featured artist. The majority of the music posted here would be considered underground. Don't let that fool you into thinking that the music featured here might be any less enjoyable than that of the mainstream artists you hear on the radio, as this couldn't be further from the truth.
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Well, let’s hope so. At least autocratic 'President' Hosni Mubarak has been removed from his 30-year position that he & his National Democratic Party held through a mixture of constitutional manipulation, repression & rigged elections, cronyism & the backing of powerful foreign allies, primarily Israel & the U.S.
Now the military holds the reigns. Let us all hope that unfolds better than it sounds. At least the will of the people of Egypt has prevailed & the possibility of a better future looms on the horizon.
In Egypt, popular music is dominated by slickly packaged songs that are mainly formulaic & for the most part uninspired. But a few bands are providing an alternative. One is Black Theama, which combines Nubian rhythms with R&B, hip-hop, reggae & African-influenced sounds, with lyrics sung in colloquial Egyptian Arabic.
Getting to hear Black Theama isn't easy, even for Cairenes with a taste for music found off the beaten path. The band refuses to work inside the commercial music industry, preferring to painstakingly save money to produce its own recordings one at a time, with the help of friends & supporters. As such, it has almost no records to speak of, & its shows are not heavily advertised. Nevertheless, Black Theama's avid underground following regularly packs venues.
Nubian actor Amir Salah Eddin is one of three singers who front the band. He says the group takes its name, "Black Theme," seriously, as it does its goal of avoiding standard pop-music cliches in its lyrics. Their song "Sheraton" features lyrics describing an early-morning Cairo scene as ordinary Egyptians walk home to their poor neighborhoods, shuffling past the tourist-filled towers of the five-star hotels that line the Nile River.
Singer Mohammed Abdo, who met Salah Eddin through theater work, says they try to celebrate the black experience in Egypt through their music. "Being dark-skinned in Egypt is always connected to the South," Abdo says. "& people from the South have their own character, their own culture, even their tone of voice is different." Ancient Nubia included much of northern Sudan & southern Egypt. Southern, dark-skinned Egyptians are invariably referred to as Nubians & traditionally they were given menial or servants' jobs.
What Black Theama provide is very personal, street-level views of Egyptian life. Amir Salah Eddin says young Egyptians are familiar with alternative bands from other countries, & that they're eager to embrace a homegrown group that bypasses the music industry to speak directly to them. The band has tapped into a hunger among young Egyptians for something that feels authentic to them today. While mainstream Egyptian singers may croon about starry-eyed love & teenage heartbreak, a character in a Black Theama song responds to his fiancee's question about marriage by asking:
"Why not ask me about the corrupt politicians who stole my dreams? Or about wealthy countries with children sleeping under bridges?"
Black Theama is: Amir Salah, Mohammed Abdo, & Ahmed Bahr - vocals; Amro el Shimy - keyboards; Medhat Ali - Spanish guitar; Mostafa Guida - bass; Mohamed Samy - kaman; Amro Gahien - oud; Mahmoud Abdulaziz - drums; Mohamed Zatona - percussion; & Adel Mikha - tabla.
Year of Release: 2009 Label: Arabica Music Genre: Nubian Rock Bitrate: 320kbps
1. 2eflet Zemam
3. Ana 2alaZy
4. Black Theama
5. Eih ya3ne
8. Hely hala
9. Kol mara
10. Koun Sa3ed