By now, you’ve probably heard that there the first ever Arab Nation Music Awards is happening (or at least you should have).
You should also know that a panel of three regionally respected judges from the Indie scene – Zeid Hamdan, Adam Grundey and Cherifa Jaibi – have sifted through a vast number of talents from around the region to select a final list of five nominees for your consideration (and votes). Although the criteria for who wins is not based solely on who get the most votes, it does account for one third of the criteria.
So take a few minutes to get to know these nominees, their music and their story, and vote for your favorite!
DAFFY & FLIPPERACHI // KUWAIT & BAHRAIN
SONG: EE LA
Nawaf Fahed, better known as Daffy, is a Kuwaiti singer, songwriter, and producer.
Growing up surrounded by music, he started out singing at the age of 9 and began writing songs at 15. Upon joining the group known as “Army of One” in 2004, Daffy and the group released several singles, albums, and music videos over the years and built a fan base across the region as one of the pioneering hip hop/R&B groups. In early 2014, Daffy became a member of Outlaw Productions, taking his career to the next level. Daffy’s sound fuses hip-hop, R&B, soul, jazz, reggae, and a bit of Arabic/Middle Eastern, blending different cultures in a unique sound. Currently planning new projects, Daffy has a lot in store and continues to work towards taking his music to new heights.
The young rising star Hussam Aseem (aka “Flipp” or “Flipperachi”) is recognized as being one of the few passionate and devoted Arab rappers in Bahrain and the Middle East as a whole. Although his culture divides between those of Bahrain and Morocco, Flipp knew that this was an advantage for him, in order to fuse with the western community and allow the Arab world to cross the waters that had always seemed too deep to swim across. Having passion, energy, goals and remarkable talent, it was not long until Flipp met the already well-known Dj/Producer “Dj Outlaw. In 2008, Flipp joined Outlaw Productions – the leading Hip Hop organization in Bahrain. That resulted in him being part of Dj Outlaw’s “History In The Making” studio album featuring local artists, as well as internationally known stars of the music world.
El MORABBA3 // JORDAN
SONG: ABAAD SHWAII
In 2009, Jordanian Palestinian band El Morabba3, (The Square in Arabic) came together to offer a groundbreaking sound with their unique music and socially engaged lyrics. The band is composed of Muhammad Abdullah (Vocals, Songwriting & Bass), Odai Shawagfeh (Electric Guitar, Keys/Synth & Production) and Dirar Shawagfeh (Drums & Percussions).
Their fresh rock/post-rock electronic sound, described as euphoric, holistic, spacey and raucous quickly catapulted the band to massive success. Their artistic journey saw them become one of the leading socially and politically relevant bands reviving the Arab Independent music scene.
The band broke cultural barriers and appealed to a generation of hunger-stricken fans living in an unstable and restless region, as they craved a new sound; one that expressed the thoughts, concerns and anger of the people towards the realities they are living today.
GHOULA // TUNISIA
Mixing melismatic Berber melodies with mangled samples and raucous electronic beats, Wael Jegham (also known as Ghoula) brazenly overhauls the sound of the Maghreb. Ghoula’s group A5Tuna draws upon the diverse musical styles of North Africa, including Rai, Chaabi, Malouf, and Tichumaren, with punk vigor. Windy guitar licks and aggressive drum fills are blended with synth runs and stabs of local instruments.
A self-taught musician and producer based in Tunisia, Ghoula creates genre-defying sounds that span across many mediums including film, television, and advertisement. As a composer, Ghoula has written original soundtracks for the short films L’Mrayet, L’Ambouba and Linge Sale, each of which have been honored as official selections at numerous international film festivals. His command of both acoustic recording styles and electronic beat making allows his recordings to occupy versatile landscapes. He currently lends his tinkering approach to Propaganda Production Company as their sound effects and mixing engineer.
IMARHAN // ALGERIA
In the language of the Kel Tamashek people ‘Imarhan’ means ‘the ones I care about’ – Iyad Moussa Ben Abderahmane aka Sadam, Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Haiballah Akhamouk and Abdelkader Ourzig all grew up near each other in Tamanrasset, Southern Algeria, in a Tuareg community of Northern Malian descent. The giant divide between their spiritual home and physical home is heard in their tracks: the funkier groove of Western Africa, the emptier, subtle tones of Saharan Traditional folk music and the fire and romance of Algerian Rai music. No other Tuareg release to date has had such a variance of rhythms, tempo and feeling. Even if the band has a direct DNA link to trail blazers Tinariwen - (Eyadou Ag Leche of Tinariwen is a cousin of front man Sadam, and guided their evolution and produced and co-wrote several songs on this album), their poetry and flow has a more integrally urban base than the ancestral Tamashek poetry and traditional rhythms of their elders. Instead, they offer something much more fresh and intricate; there is a lot of sensitivity and space in these jams, a lot of room for your mind to ponder and drift. Imarhan’s record is an album that will stay fresh for a long time and influence those from the Sahara and beyond.
TAMER ABU GHAZALEH // PALESTINE
Melding virtuosity with fierce experimentation in composition, songwriting and performance on Oud, Buzuq and vocals, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh is a cross-genre composer, producer and a prolific collaborator born in Cairo to a Palestinian family. In May 2016, his much-anticipated Thulth (Third) album is due to be released via Mostakell.
Abu Ghazaleh released his second album Mir’ah (Mirror) in 2008. The record’s seven turbulent, and sometimes frenzied songs were written during the unrest of the second Intifada. He has been performing it ever since at sold-out concerts in Arab and European cities with Khyam Allami on drums, Shadi El-Hosseiny on piano and Mahmoud Waly on bass. Born in 1986, Abu Ghazaleh studied Oud, Buzuq, music theory, history, analysis, composition, arrangement and performance at Al Urmawi Center and the Edward Said Conservatory in Ramallah.