Egyptian Hip Hop - ‘GOOD DONT SLEEP’ (R&S)

12 Nov 2012

"It takes time and care to produce something worthwhile and it should be applauded that the band have chosen to stake a claim over true development over cashing in..."

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Recently, a buzz band did a date supporting Egyptian Hip Hop and a friend of mine wondered why this group had put themselves in such a position, figuring that "going on before '09's best new band isn't a good look." I was inclined to agree with him. Why would you want to be seen with an outfit that obviously have no understanding of the hype cycle?
Seriously though, it does feel like an eternity since Egyptian Hip Hop actually did anything, i.e. release new material, and quite why they waited so long is, one would guess, an equally contentious issue. Yet, like any fine wine or braised meat, it takes time and care to produce something worthwhile and it should be applauded that the band have chosen to stake a claim over true development over cashing in.

And there are definitely some key parts of the album that have benefited from these elongated proceedings; the opening track, 'Tobago' for example, is elegantly built around these repeating patterns, that contain all of the pulsating, persuasive rhythm of an early Foals song but none of those pointy, precise guitars. The subtle developments over the song’s four minutes seem a natural coming together, much like the album’s artwork; apparently all materials were sourced from a street market. 

As an album, it grows, not just sequentially but over every listen. It's ritualistic, tribal. But not in the way that the brash sounds of their sonic fore-fathers Late of the Pier insinuated, it's a more subtle and solitary affair that will inevitably lull you into prescribing to their doctrine. Essentially, it’s everything that contemporary pseudo-clan The Other Tribe proclaim to be. Egyptian Hip Hop prove that you don’t have to have an overt stylisation or blatant “hit” song-writing to be considered otherworldly. 

Recent singles 'Yoro Dialio' and 'SYH' helped build the pre-release hype and both tracks are noteworthy highlights, providing a more immediate counterbalance to some of the album’s incredibly meditative moments, which are placid yet strangely compelling. Closing track, "Iltoise", for example has had me staring off into the distance, enraptured with sound as my eyes glazed over, more times than one would happily like to admit. Like the whole album, it demands your undivided attention. Hopefully no one on the tube deemed me to be staring.

 

Egyptian Hip Hop’s Good Don’t Sleep is out now via R&S

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