8 Amazing Arab Indie Musicians Worth Checking Out
I live in Dahab and it's considered a hotspot for Arab independent music lovers. From the very start I came here I was very impressed and intrigued by the Indie scene. These brave musicians I was listening to are coming from all over the Arab world; Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Morocco and Egypt. They sing about the struggles they face in their home countries as well as everyday life. In this post I am covering the musicians who enlightened my last musical year.
Here is my ultimate list of my absolutely favorite Arab artists (so far). Lower down I will also link to my apple music playlist where all of these ladies and gentlemen are featured as well as many more.
1) Mashrou' Leila
No post about Arab music can be complete without the Lebanese Band Mashrou' Leila. I actually knew them before I came to Egypt since they are very famous internationally aswell but I really got into it only recently. Their music is very versatile, experimental and brave. They have tracks ranging from electro rock to folky sounding tunes on the same album.
Their lead singer unfurled a rainbow flag at several occasions during their performances stirring up quite some controversy in the Arab world. Mashrou' Leila's satirical lyrics and themes regarding politics, religion, sexuality and homosexuality have led to bans and cancelations of their perfomances. Click here to check out their YouTube channel and here is their Apple Music link. I really enjoy most of their music but I really love the song "Roman".
Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Cairokee is the favorite band of my husband but I also enjoy their music very much. They are a very classical alternative rock band singing about everyday stuff aswell as addressing the problems of Egypt. Although they are around since 2003 they took off after the revolution in 2011 due to their politically-inspired lyrics and protest songs released following the uprising.
I'm a sucker for this kind of rock. During the first months of corona they also released a studio album where they sang their previous songs with different instrumental accompaniment (this is apparently pretty common in Egypt). It blew my mind. I absolutely loved it. Here you can find their YouTube channel and here is their link to their Apple Music page.
There is something about Autostrad. Their songs disperse good vibes and fun energy. This Jordaninan band uses elements from reggae, latin, funk as well as also lots of very traditional Arab sounds often accompanied with lots of instruments. They sing about everyday life in Jordan making them very popular among the youth. Click here for YouTube and here for their Apple Music page.
The Sharmoofers is with its seven members one of the biggest bands in Egypt. Their music has elements of hip hop, reggae and dancehall. One thing I love about their music is that they have a violinist. It's unusual but very cool. They can probably heat up a crowd with ease.
Ghaaliaa's raspy voice goes straight into my spine. This Syrian singer, songwriter, composer can also play lots of different instruments. Her music falls into RNB, HipHop, electropop, Indie and Jazz. Here is the song that stole my heart. For her Apple music page click here.
I came across Teema when I was researching Arabic Jazz. I was delighted when I found her amazing album called "EastWest". It was balsam for my soul. The music is extraordinarily beautiful - same as her voice. It is indeed a meeting between the East and the West.
7. Akher Zapheer
These guys are a grunge rock band from Jordan and their band name translates to "last exhalation". Their music is very to-the-ground therefore, you can enjoy the beautiful sound of Arabic clearly. It reminds me so much of the Russian rock bands I used to listen to when I was younger. It makes me feel nostalgic.
8. El Morabba3
The meaning of this Jordan based group name is 'the square'. After they released the album in 2012 with the same name they gained huge popularity across the region. They do post-and progressive rock and often include psychedelic elements. Check out their Youtube channel here and here is the link to their Apple music page.
I'm excited to keep searching for new amazing music from the Arab world. These guys and ladies are brave. They manage to perform in very restrictive regimes, often facing bans or even harsher measures if they cross the line of their governments. Young artists everywhere should be supported because music is a mirror of our society.
Here you can also find a link to my personal playlist on Apple Music where I'm collecting the Arab music I love.