Yet another year has passed, punctuated by COVID-19’s new normal. During those solitary morning runs, those cab rides where masks barriered good conversation, there was one true companion: music. It’s been a trying two years, but good tunes have made misfortune bearable. For the third year running, Spotify has turned up and celebrated Egyptian tastes with yet another Wrapped campaign.
With all the drama orbiting Egyptian hip-hop, it’s refreshing to hear that it has topped the charts in Egypt this year, dominating the majority of streamed lists. By adopting elements of American trap and the mahraganat sound, local listeners have enjoyed a good bit of cynical, socio-political party music.
So without further ado, here is Egypt’s Spotify wrapped – or: Egypt’s quarantine jockeys.
Artists’ All-Timers Hall
Wegz, with his distinctive rasp and approachable swagger, topped Egypt’s lists this year and cemented the title of “Most Streamed Artist” for the second year running. He embodies much of the common genres that have gained momentum over the last few years, a cocktail of rap and mahraganat-esque sound. Four of his songs made it into the top ten for 2021, including Asyad El Soot featuring LZHYMR, Msh Fair, A’afreet El Asphalt, and Hustla.
“I can’t explain how happy I am to be Spotify’s top streamed artist for the second year in a row,” Wegz commented in response to Spotify’s press-release. “A big thanks to the best fans in the world: I couldn’t be here without you!”
A long-lasting favorite in Egypt is Amr Diab, who came in second on the list. From smashing it in the nineties and early 2000s, Diab has made a name for himself on national and international stages with equal vigor; all strung Spanish guitars and romantic vocals that yank on the sentimental. He is a quick pause between the rappers’ ranks.
Third, and equally ferocious in the Egyptian rap game, is Marawan Pablo: singer, songwriter and record producer. Despite announcing his departure from the music scene back in spring 2020, he hasn’t fallen from grace. His song Ghaba was the most-streamed song this year, with honorable mentions to CTRL which was the most-played song during the Royal Mummy Parade earlier in 2021; critical and political and everything the public has been waiting for.
Fourth and fifth are also essential to Egypt’s rap revolution: Abyusif and Marawan Moussa. With similar tongue-in-cheek tunes and cynicism, these two have certainly earned their respective rankings. Moussa’s 13-track Florida album bolted to the top of the most-streamed albums without much competition, with the song Tesla ranking seventh on the list of most-streamed songs.
With the exception of Lege-Cy in seventh place, Mohamed Hamaki in ninth, and Afroto in tenth, the latter half of Egypt’s most-streamed artists list features foreign, undeniable talents including: BTS in sixth, and The Weeknd in eighth.
Songs That Smashed It
Ghaba, as previously mentioned, is Marawan Pablo’s magnum opus for the year sitting in first place virtually unchallenged by local talent. Second was awarded to a forgiven song: Astronaut in the Ocean by Masked Wolf.
Wegz is a common, repeating denominator when it comes to Wrapped 2021, featuring in nearly every list. His song Asyad El Soot was the third most-streamed song of the year, with A’afreet El Asphalt, Msh Fair, and Hustla sitting at eighth, ninth, and tenth place respectively.
Pablo featured again in fourth, with CTRL, followed by Afroto’s Msh Bel Hozoz and Shahyn’s SIRI. An equally important Marawan – Moussa in this case – comes in with Tesla in seventh place: a flaunty, mumble-rap banger.
With Moussa’s Florida in first, Amr Diab’s Sahran takes second place as the most-streamed album in Egypt. On this list, foreign talent dominates with the exception of Mohamed Hamaki (ninth, tenth) and Hamza Namira (Mawloud Sanat 80 in third). Future Nostalgia, with an Austin Powers-like tracklist, earns Dua Lipa fourth place, followed closely by the sleepover-core of Oliva Rodrigo’s SOUR album.
XXXTENTACION may have passed, but his music lives on; his album ‘?’ sits in sixth place, followed by the poppy, boppy Planet Her from Doja Cat. After Hours by the Weeknd comes right after, cozied in eighth place.
Love-Letter To Arab Ladies
Wrapped 2021 coverage would be incomplete without an ode to Arab female artists. Year after year, Arab women have fought tooth and nail through hardship and setbacks, persevering despite the odds. Um Kalthoum paved the way, and her musical proteges were quick on the uptake, ensuring that Arab women played an essential role in shaping the region’s sound.
A classic that never fades, Fairuz sits atop the list as the most-streamed Arab female artist, followed by the more local, colloquial Sheriene. Even more playful and daring with her choices, Ruby comes in at third, followed by the ever-adored Nancy Ajram. Although Assala is the fifth this year, there is no doubt that she is a cornerstone of the Arab music scene – and has been for years.