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'Mahraganat': New Hybrid Music Wave Sweeps Egypt

Ongoing turmoil in Egypt has created a vacuum that is being filled with frenetic beats in uncontrolled public spaces perfect for all-night parties, writes Mosa’ab Elshamy.

MADINAT EL SALAM, Egypt — Madinat El Salam [Salam City], a remote city an hour outside Cairo was built by the Egyptian army after an earthquake left over 50,000 homeless in 1992. Twenty years later, its wide modernist streets have become fertile ground for an emerging music scene that is now making its way across the country.

Mahraganat, which means festivals, is difficult to classify under one genre. It refers to the carnivalesque atmosphere of shaabi (local) music mixed with electronic music and the spirit of early hip-hop — but the artists who created it do not accept this description. Mahraganat, they say, is something new and unique.

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