Here is what you must consider when watching this excellent documentary about a new musical genre, mahraganat, that was formed in the streets of Cairo: Egypt has a population of 80 million and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $260 billion; Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has a population of 28 million but a GDP that’s more than double ($560 billion) Egypt’s. And yet the world not seen one interesting cultural innovation come out of the richer country, and lots have emerged from Egypt. One of the latest such innovations is mahraganat or “festival” music, which came into existence in 2007 and mixes hiphop, electronica, techno, street poetry, belly-dancing beats, and a whole bunch of other stuff into a cultural force that’s changing the city and the Arab world. The documentary captures the human electricity of this new music. In one scene, we see a group of mahraganat performers transforming a small slum apartment into a fucking rocking beat with their hands, objects, closet doors. No amount of money can buy you this kind of love. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Electro Chaabi plays today at the SIFF Cinema Uptown at 2 pm.