Egyptian Shaabi: a little history
I hope you love Shaabi, the music and films I grew up with, as much as I do!
Shaabi means of the people (working class). Shaabi is a style of Egyptian music that originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s created by disillusioned, working class youths.
They sang in spicy, colloquial language about the ills of society, corruption and economic problems. They also sang about food (often a euphemism for sex) and love â€“ all with lots of double meanings and comedy, comedy, comedy. Egyptians tend to laugh off their problems! The upper and middle classes did not like it because it questioned the status quo and used slang.
Early Shaabi singers distributed their songs on cassettes as national recording studios, radio and TV would not touch them because of the content. Nevertheless, some, like Ahmed Adawaya, rose to international fame and starred in films.
Later, there came Shaabi comedy films. These satirical movies have the same type of content as Shaabi music and show the power of Egyptian cinema. (There's a clip from one just below.)
Since the 2011 revolution Shaabi is still going strong. It often has a more electronic Hip-Hop sound but the lyrics are still addressing political issues. The Internet is now the way in which the sounds find an ever larger audience.
This bellydancing clip is from a funny, colourful, 2007 Shaabi film called Inner City Story. It is a satire about Egyptian society. The two men are teaching the girl to bellydance so she can enter a competition for the prize money. There are English sub titles but I bet you can understand lots of it. It is pure bellydance fun! Enjoy!
TOP TIP: The content of some Shaabi songs means they are unsuitable for public performance but as dance music, they are the best! Check the lyrics. Be aware - choose with care!