"We need to explain something about rap. People always say we've adopted a Western style of music.
Of course, our music has its roots in America's current hip hop. But rap is rhythm and poetry. Poetry is an Arab creation. It started in pre-Islamic times.
Arabs used to meet in the market and play tambourine. They used to improvise, just as Eminem does.
This all happened both before Islam and thereafter. Some of the world's best poets are Arabs, such as al-Mutannabi and Ahmed Shawqi.
The only difference is that we sing this poetry to music.
Our music is not Western. It has Arabic rhythms. We sing in Arabic and sometimes in English so that our music reaches people in the West and corrects the wrong idea they have about us.
I began rapping in 1999 in English with a band called Mad Skills Empire. Then I met Sphinx and E-Money, and I started to write lyrics in Arabic.
I wanted to express in my own language the daily life of people around me. Not only in Egypt, but in the entire Arab world because I grew up in several places there. Then came the idea of incorporating the theme of Arab unity into our music.
This was the seed from which Arabian Knightz was born. And also what is called the Arab League which includes Arabian Knightz, MC Amin and other rappers from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Morocco, the Gulf, and from the entire Arab world.
As much as we try to reflect the state of our society, we also try to solve our problems in the Arab world. We try to portray the real Arab character to counter the false image presented in propaganda to the West. We try to bridge the gap."
"I'm MC Amin, from Mansoura. I represent Egypt. I try to explain what's happening in our life, to our people. We sing about the reality of our problems and our lives."
When I started singing,
I erased a lot of people in my life.
I don't need to say anything, it's clear.
When you listen to me, you'll like me.
Listen to my madness.
It's difficult to catch me, so leave me.
This is how I was raised.
It's difficult for me to change.
Let's have peace as life is short.
In my music, you'll see your life.
No one can hurt me as long as my people trust me.
"I'm Sphinx from Arabian Knightz. I came to Egypt on a vacation. And I met with the guys. Somebody was telling me about Arabic hiphop and I didn't want to believe the situation. I didn't really think that it could happen. But when I heard the guys I saw something different in the hiphop that was going on here in Egypt and in the Middle East in general.
It was pure still, it wasn't corrupt by the money and the bling bling and the girls and whatever nonsense else that it's flooded with in the industry, in the hiphop out in the States. I saw it still in its pure form like where and when it started back in the day, with Public Enemy [...], just hiphop from where it started and why hiphop came out, political content and what was being said.
And besides that the Middle East right now needs a voice because the point of view of the Middle East generation of today needs to be heard, because what's going on outside of the Middle East is just propaganda about us when the story should be heard from the people who are actually living the lives. So we try to give that mirror to the rest of the world."
Next Music Station airs at the following times GMT each week: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600.
Click here for more on the series.
Source: Al Jazeera