Mahraganat (English: festivals; Egyptian Arabic: مهرجانات [mɑh.ɾɑ.ɡɑˈnɑːt] or electro chaabi is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in El Matareya, Cairo, Egypt. Mahraganat is a combination of popular chaabi music played at weddings and electronic dance music. DJ Filo made the genre more well known with his team "set dyaba" released during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Although this may be the first ever track to go mainstream, Mahraganat was originally conceived first by the DJs El Sadat, Filo, Zizo El noby, Hamo, and El Araby in 2006. They shared their music via MP3 files and phones, and it could be heard playing in taxis, tuktuks and on the street. The first ever Mahragan mix was released by the group of friends in 2008-09 and it was called Mahragan "Mahragan Elsalam" which talked about friendship and how to be mature.
|Cultural origins||El Matareya, Cairo, Egypt|
The origins of mahraganat (the songs of mahragan) lie in the popular (sha'bi) neighborhoods and slums of Cairo. In 2006-7, wedding DJs began combining chaabi music and electronic dance music with influences from reggaeton, grime and rap. In 2011, the Revolution began and the genre reflected the political turmoil as DJ Figo, released his first big single entitled "Ana Baba, Y’lla" Initially, mahragan received no airplay on radio or television and spread online by means of such sites as YouTube and SoundCloud. Like mulid (a different sub-genre of sha'bi music) it is dance music, not meant for sitting and listening. Mahragan street performances inspire wild, sometimes acrobatic dancing, combining hip-hop moves with raqs baladi (Egyptian folk dancing). In 2014, mahragan DJ Souissy signed a record deal and artists such as EEK (which is purely music without lyrics) brought the genre to the mainstream in Egypt. By summer 2014, mahraganat had become popular throughout all of Egypt. Outside of Egypt, the genre was popularised by alternative culture magazine Audio Kultur and the Cairo Liberation Front. Dance music blog Generation Bass also helped introduce mahraganat to European audiences. In 2014, a group of mahragan DJs toured the Netherlands.
In 2016, Mahragan DJ Zola was shot and killed on the street during celebrations of the Revolution's fifth anniversary. The government announced Muslim Brotherhood protesters were responsible for the shooting, while DJ Sadat held the police responsible.
The genre was considered vulgar by some older and more conservative Egyptians. This is because of the social status of the performers and fans, the controversial topics and style of lyrics, use of obscenities, and personal style of the sarsagiyya (mahragan fans.) In 2016, Nagham FM radio station banned maharagan songs from its programs, citing that they did not "match Egyptian customs and traditions". However, television shows and music producers moved to cash in on the new trend, signing certain artists, such as Oka & Ortega, who have performed more widely since 2013 and recorded some commercials, and many hit songs.
In popular culture
In 2013, Hind Meddeb released a documentary about the genre entitled Electro Chaabi.
DJS and performers
- Sherifa Zuhur "“Mulid and Mahragan: Invoking Spirituality and Popular Authenticity in Egyptian Music and Dance” Paper presented to the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, 9/15/18."
- Peavey, April (24 June 2014). "In Egypt, 'electro-chaabi' music stirs up controversy". The World. PRI.
- ElNabawi, Maha. "Meet and Sadat sang "Ash-sha'b wa-l-hukuma" (The People and the Government) Some of the Major Players". British Council.
- Sherifa Zuhur, “Mulid: Regenerating Spiritual and Popular Legitimacy in Egyptian Music and Dance and the Sister Genres of Sha’bi and Mahragan.” Presented to the Fifth World Congress on Middle East Studies, Seville, Spain, July 19, 2018
- "DJ Ahmed "Zo'la" Mohsen shot in the head on Egyptian revolution's anniversary". Al Bawaba. January 28, 2015.
- Ted Swedenburg, “Egypt’s Music of Protest: From Sayyid Darwish to DJ Haha,”Middle East Research and Information Project 42, no. 265 (2012), http://www.merip.org/mer/mer265/egypts-music-protest.
- "Egypt: Radio station bans mahraganat song". Freemuse. May 17, 2016.
- Ben Hubbard, "Out of Egypt's Chaos, Musical Rebellion," New York Times, May 11, 2013. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/world/middleeast/egypts-chaos-stirs-musical-revolution.html
- Bordier, Julien (24 December 2014). "Moyen-Orient: Levant nouveau de l'électro". L'express.