Blaring out of corner coffee shops and taxi-dashboard cassette decks, the contentious, streetwise Egyptian folk-pop called shaabi (which literally means “of the common people”), and its more recent, raucous, electronic revamp, mahraganat, are familiar, quotidian sounds to low-profile Cairo producer 3Phaz. His debut album on his hometown’s 100Copies label, an imprint recognized for championing savvy and adventurous electronic music out of Egypt, lays out an exploded view of the music, its elements isolated and extrapolated. Ignoring the provocative lyrical aspect, 3Phaz zeroes in on the clangorous, firecracker percussion, pulsating bass and persistent synths, with peripheral flickers of chants, cheers, and ecstatic cries. There are some solid bangers here, like “Drill” and “Pressure”, a bit in keeping with the tough, tricky hard-drum stuff out of London the last half decade. The whole thing’s loaded with nervous energy, but its footing is sure.
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