A soft lullaby-like melody introduces listeners to the story of a dog called ‘Debba’ (Bear), and with that, we are instantly drawn into wanting to find out more. A few seconds into the song, the lead vocalist goes into a rhythmic storytelling narration reminiscent of nostalgic and familiar Egyptian tunes such as those of Tholathy Adwa’ al Masrah (The Stage Trio).
Egyptian band Kahareb’s latest album ‘Malhamet Debba’ (Bear’s Odyssey) offers an endearing, intriguing and fun-filled story of a dog out on the loose in the streets of Maadi. The concept album, released on March 1st 2021, takes listeners through a journey as they get to know and love Debba thanks to his adventures and mishaps. Staying true to the story-like concept of the album, the music accompanying each song may swiftly change in accordance to the events happening in Debba’s story – perhaps in a way which ultimately makes listeners connect to the album (and the story) all the more.
Kahareb is a relatively new, and greatly innovative, musical group who have quickly gained popularity and a large following thanks to their catchy tunes and striking music videos which often carry highly theatrical elements to complement their songs. Made up of six members – Youssef Atwan (Writer, Composer, Guitar, Lead Vocals), Mokhtar El Sayeh (Producer, Mixing, Mastering, Bassist), Heba Rifaat (Vocals), Magued Nagati (Drums), Omar Magdy (Guitar) and Shadi El-Husseiny (Keyboard) – this young Egyptian band offers the local music scene a fresh perspective with a touch of nostalgia.
From Debba’s brave standoff with the local street dogs to his fascination with the the local ‘beauty queen’ of dogs, the album goes from highs to lows and everything in between. With simple, yet intelligently played out lyrics and music through which western influences intermix with local mahragran-like (popular Egyptian electronic dance music) tunes, Malhamet Debba is far from the ordinary.
The young group of musicians manage to turn their latest album into somewhat of play – an experience. As one listens to one song after another, they could easily envision the events that play out and the characters of the story, turning the album into more than a compilation of songs. Malhamet Debba quickly becomes a memorable anecdote to both the life of Egyptian street dogs, as well as the daily adventures that Cairo’s streets have to offer – both good and bad.
At times, one will feel the urge to get up and dance and sing along to the catchy beats of some songs; at other times, they will feel moved by the Debba’s story and find themselves riddled with anticipation for a happy ending.
In any case, Kahareb successfully delivers a worthwhile album consisting of a little something for everyone. An interesting story? Check. Memorable beats? Check. Innovative sounds? Check. While the album may be somewhat unusual for those who are rather drawn to more traditional forms of music, it is certainly worth checking out if only to explore the different depths to which music can take us. As the final song of the album upliftingly calls out ‘Mateegy Taala’ (Why Don’t You Come), it is the perfect message to curious listeners.
*Listen to the full album on Soundcloud