With the Palestinian flag draped over his shoulders, Alexandria-born Ahmed Ali, who goes by the name Wegz, was met with a roaring 1400-strong crowd at Paris’ Cabaret Sauvage. As part of the artist’s first set of appearances in Europe, the turnout was impressive and the enthusiasm overwhelming for this 24-year-old who is at the forefront of young Egyptian musicians exporting local sounds to eager international audiences.
The concert did not go unnoticed in Egypt, with Egyptians on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram sharing images and videos from the concert with messages of admiration for Wegz bringing worldwide attention to Egypt’s music scene and his commitment to proudly show his support for Palestine on stage.
Through a unique mix of trap and shaabi, Wegz’s music is undoubtedly of its time and place. His story is not unlike many young Egyptians; having worked in call centers before his entry full-time into music. For these reasons, Wegz’s songs about everyday life and their honest depiction of the lives of Egyptian youth have been a hit in Egypt, with songs like “Dorak Gai” (Your Turn Is Coming) garnering an impressive 92 million views on Youtube. But with Wegz being among several other Egyptian artists featured on the soundtrack for Marvel’s hit series “Moon Knight,” who unexpectedly shot up the US music charts, and now with Wegz’s explosive concert in Paris, we may be seeing signs of the rising popularity of Egyptian trap, shaabi and marhaganat in the international music scene.
According to music journalist Peter Holslin, who specializes in Middle Eastern music and spoke to us there has been a steady recognition of marhaganat and shaabi by music aficionados in the West and the Egyptian diaspora over several years, but no artists have yet to cross into the mainstream and reach wider audiences. However, Holslin suggests that with the recent surge of interest in the marhaganat, shaabi and Egyptian trap and the increasing chance of collaborations of Egyptian artists with musicians already established in the West, we could see the entry of artists like Wegz into the international arena.
While a comparison to Uum Kulthum’s legendary 1967 performance at Paris’ Olympia concert hall may seem a stretch, Wegz’s electrifying performance in Paris may represent the entry of another uniquely Egyptian artist pushing the boundaries of musical genres able to excite European capitals once again.
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