Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Great moments in Egyptian-rap
I'm not talking about the Hiero lads, KRS rapping about how ancient Egyptians invented da 4 elementz, I Can by Nas with the third verse about the history of north Africa, Tragedy rapping about how QB is "the new Egypt", that recent shitty KanYe posse track where he said "have you ever had sex with a pharoah?/I put the pussy in a sarcophagus", or 2002 era stuff with weird middle-eastern vocal samples like React or Addictive here, but rather rap songs with exotic synths which sound like a weird modern take on stock Egyptian sitar musik which make you feel like you're a king of the Tutankhamun calibre or a transcendental deity like Amun-Ra when you jam them. You feel me? :
Sexual Harassment - I Need A Freak
Afrika Bambaataa alluded to Egypt with the Planet Rock synths sounding a smidgen more funky than Trans Europe Express and his get-up in the Renegades Of Funk video, but I'm pinpointing this 1983 single by Sexual Harassment as the official Louie Louie of Egypt-rap. So much so, in fact, that fellow disciples of Egypt-rap like Egyptian Lover and Mac Dre remade it (twice!), though Too $hort's remake is probably the definitive version. Little is known about Sexual Harassment who only made the one LP and then vanished, but the most suprising thing about them has to be that they're not a Chicago house side outfit with that group name and song title.
Z-3 MC's - Triple Threat
A 1984 Duke Bootee produced classic from his Beauty And Beat imprint for Baltimore's Z-3 MC's on which DJ Cheese made his debut appearance before finding fame with his two songs with Word Of Mouth and winning the DMC Championships in 1984. If you can listen to this banger with its warped King Tut synth line and not think of the computer game Oh Mummy then you're obviously not a thirty something dude who owned an 8 bit Amstrad home computer in the eighties that came with a pack of twelve free games which also included Harrier Attack, Roland On The Ropes, and Fruit Machine.
Egyptian Lover - The Dark Side Of Egypt
Egyptian Lover - Freak-A-Holic
While he may not have quite invented the sub-genre, Egyptian Lover is the Rupert Murdoch of Egypt-rap : he runs t'ings in this world, son. Dark Side Of Egypt is a slept-on album track from the One Track Mind LP, and I couldn't resist posting Freak-A-Holic to link to the amazing video again, and because it has an interesting backstory behind it as it's a semi-remake of former Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson's Modernaire which was featured in the Purple Rain movie but omitted from the soundtrack as Dez had left the Revolution by the time of its release. Is it too late to get a Prince and Egyptian Lover collaboration in 2010 now Prince is forced to release albums through British newspapers and Egyptian Lover is treated like Sekhmet by the breakdancing community of Estonia?
Juvenile ft. BG, Turk & Big Moe - I Did That
Of course, Mannie has to have one entry here given that his synth game from, like, 1995 - 2004 was near peerless, but I Did That from Juve's Solja Rags is an interesting one as it falls under the umbrella of Egypt-rap whilst also having a couple of toes in the sounding-like-some-hypnoticly-airy-incidental-musik-by-the-BBC-Radiophonic-Workshop-in-a-Peter-Davison-episode-of-Dr-Who pool.
Mac Dre - Dipped When You See Me
Mac Dre & Mac Mall ft. Rydah J. Clyde - Giggin'
Mac Dre ft. Boss Hog, B-Luv & Husalah - Hustle
While I Need An Eighth and I Feed My Bitch were Dre's most significent forays into the realm of Egypt-rap since both were derived from I Need A Freak neither are anywhere near to being his best examples of the sound. Dipped When You See Me is the soundtrack for kings getting blown by Cleopatra and feasting on Kirsha as beauties fan then with palm leaves, Giggin' is the anthem for when Akhekh is having a bit of trouble with Barukatatau from the pyramid next door after he keeps letting his peasant slaves piss in the Nile, and Hustle is the sound of late-night drinking converasations between members of the Ptolemaic dynasty recounting who's sacrificed the most heathens by mummifying them while they're still alive.
Husalah - Live Life Illegal
I can't think of a current rapper more suited to Egypt-rap than Husalah, but this is his only entry into the canon to date. Rap's third greatest strength after tackling important male issues other genres deem too puerile and its richness in variety of sound is that rappers have this strange ability to make stuff that's seedy and frowned up by regular society sound cool, so when Hus' raps about "hangin' in the parking lot/pull out my cock a lot/on your wife a lot" it sounds like an activity that's as natural as buying a girl a drink in a bar rather than, y'know, a bloke lurking around a car park flashing middle aged women like Edna from Glendale. If Frozen Heart is Hus's best song when operating within the framework of the Mob Figaz template, then was is his best in Thizz mode.
Prodigy - New Yitty
Hard White ft. Prodigy - They Want Me Dead
After Prodigy pillaged the world of Blaxploitation soundtracks for Return Of The Mac, exotic synths bacame his default sound for H.N.I.C 2 and his appearances on his weed-carrier affiliated projects. The theme of Egypt also kept cropping up on in his rapping on H.N.I.C 2 and in prison blogs so I'm fully hopping he adopts a King Tut from the Batman tv show persona when he gets out of the pokey. Poor Hell Rell, man - he killed those two Diplomatic Immunity phone freestyles and he had a song with Styles P which might've been a street anthem in a more propitious era, but what thanks does he get? Prodigy calling him "an ugly dipshit, the black Craig Mack" on New Yitty and Max B comparing his mother to Freeway and calling him a "taco meat faced ass n*gga" in WHHH videos.
E-40 - If I Was A Fifth
E-40 ft. Marty James - Rick Rock Horns
And, finally, back to the Bay. E-40 had two stabs at Egypt-rap on 2003's Breakin' News album : Rick Rock's Act An Ass is the more obvious attempt at the sound but If I Was A Fifth bangs harder, dunnit? When the Revunue Retrievin' tracklists hit the 'net Rick Rock Horns was the most intriguing title on there (Rick Rock channeling the 45 King or something?), so this being another '40 Egyptian-rap slap was a total curveball. Not that I'm complaining, though, because it's a perfect foundation for '40's eccentricies of slanguage, one of the best songs on the excellent Day Shift disc, and it has bonus comedy value with dudes all up in Youtube comment sections like "WHY IS 40 DISSING RICK ROSS???????". Not as funny as fans of British raver-turds The Prodigy writing angry reviews of Prodigy from Mobb Deep's solo albums on Amazon, but amusing enough for now.
So, what else am I missing here? Alchemist's Wet Wipes for Cam, perhaps? Skrung Owt by Fam-Lay as the soundtrack to a deadly sandstorm conjured up by Sutekh? I'm sure Quik must have something which fits the bill since he's a maestro of exotic synths and his Egyptian Lover influence has been fairly apparent at times (the cover of Rhythm-Al-Ism and songs like Jupiter's Critic And The Mind Of Mars) but nothing explicity Egyptian sounding is coming to mind. Maybe Buck Bounce?
Someone really needs to sample the Iron Sheik's entrance music already.