Oddisee & Maryam Saleh “Nough Al Hamam”

Posted: January 7, 2014 by ericbernsen in Music, Songs/Videos
Tags: , , , ,

Oddisee is a producer and rapper from Washington D.C. that has been on our radar screen for a number of years now. His Traveling Man album released in 2010 is a favorite here at Hip To The Game and, in my mind, Oddisee is one of the most talented hip-hop artists out there. While many general music fans are unfamiliar with his work, we are here to change that as year after year Oddisee releases quality material. This song named “Nough Al Hamam” is the product of a recording session compromised of nine female musicians from Africa as well as Oddisee (who is of Sudanese ancestry). While this track is not sung in English, the striking vocals from singer Maram Saleh sound remarkable over the impressive Oddisee production.

A lot of hip-hop music is presented to the public in haste these days as artists do their best to stay current in an over-saturated  market. This is not one of those case as the story behind this record is a special one. “Nough Al Hamam” will be featured on the project titled Sawtuha and the details on how this music came about is inspiring:

Some time ago I worked for a Berlin based NGO called MICT while running Jakarta Records. During this time I helped organize a recording session in Tunisia with 9 female singers and musicians from Tunisia, Libya & Egypt together with Oddisee and Olof Dreijer of The Knife. “Nouh Al Hamam” by egyptian singer Maryam Saleh is the first leak of the project. You can pre-order the vinyl here. Below you can find the infos for this project.

A little less then three years ago the political situation in many countries of the Arab world changed dramatically. Uprisings started in rural areas of Tunisia and from there spread to various countries in the region. Millions gathered in the streets united by their demand for more democracy, rights and participation in the political process. In most cases the reaction of the governing dictators were relentless and severe towards every form of protests. Violence in the streets of Cairo, Tunis and Bengasi escalated and resulted in the overthrow of the governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia.

A year later a group of female singers and musicians from Tunisia (Nawel Ben Kraiem, Badiaa Bouhrizi, Medusa, Houwaida), Libya (Nada) and Egypt (Donia Massoud, Maryam Saleh, Youssra El Hawary) met in Mohsen Matri Studio in Tunis to sing- against corruption, despotism, patronization and narrow-mindedness. The song with Syrian artist Rasha Rizk was recorded some months later in her political asylum in Cairo. Sudanese/American producer Oddisee and Olof Dreijer of the Swedish pop duo The Knife joined the session, participating in the creation of the musical backdrop as well as the often multi-instrumentalist female singers. For the vinyl edition producers such as Brenk, Blackjoy and Blundetto contributed remix versions of the project.

At the time and still today especially musicians and especially women were and are trapped in a spiral of repression, discrimination and violence. “Sawtuha” (Arabic for “her voice”), the album that is the product of the 2-week session, is a vital encouraging testament of rebellion against the repression of democratic rights, gender inequality, and lack of inclusion. The music is an organic mixture of traditional Arabic music, regional influences and various forms of contemporary Western musical genres. A mixture that may sound contradicting at first but makes total sense once you listen to the music.

The studio session was organized by the Berlin based NGO MICT (Media In Cooperation And Transition) and was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Listen to “Nough Al Hamam” below (first spotted at 2DopeBoyz) and be sure to check out more material from Oddisee!

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