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Mahraganat: Egypt's Musical Revolution

A look inside the country's underground electro-rap uprising
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Electro-shaabi in Cairo
Mosa'ab Elshamy

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On the genesis of hip-hop, Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons saw the genre as "from the underground, ideas from the underbelly, from people who have mostly been locked out, who have not been recognized." Mahraganat, informally known as electro chaabi, is an Egyptian socially-minded, electro-rap mash-up that echoes these hip-hop ideals, created by and for an uncertain youth in the wake of a tumultuous, post-Mubarak Egypt. Mirroring hip-hop's rise, in its home country mahraganat is still largely considered working-class, profane music, barred from the pop-centric radio, but the high energy and candid messages of politics, sex, and day-to-day life found in the music reflect an open channel for discussion unheard of elsewhere in Egyptian music today. Slowly but surely becoming a crossover success, mahraganat's popularity is only growing at home and abroad.

Photographer Mosa'ab Elshamy was on hand in Cairo and its surrounding cities to document mahraganet's rise, from the wedding halls that house its most popular shows to the humble cities that birthed its stars.

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