During the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, as thousands of people took to the streets in protest against the ruling elite, it was music that charged the crowds, communicating out loud their vision of liberty. This new digital release presents a collection of material from the most resonant voice on the ground at the protests, the strident Ramy Essam.
Also available as a bonus disc on The Rough Guide To Arabic Revolution
Freedom singer and Freemuse Award Winner Ramy was present at Tahrir Square throughout the Egyptian Revolution. He roused the masses with his stirring songs which swiftly went viral. On a day that came to be known as ‘Angry Friday’ (28 January 2011), outraged by the violence and injustices happening around him, Ramy stood himself atop a makeshift stage and began to strum his guitar. Soon his songs calling for Mubarak’s resignation were being chanted throughout the capital, shaking the very foundations of the crumbling Egyptian government. His powerful lyrics describing Mubarak’s legacy of corruption, as in the song ‘Taty Taty’: ‘When you work so hard, worried about your nation's welfare/Work seems useless, because here only low and lame people rise/When your words function as evidence against you, and when you hide your true religion inside your heart/And when I see humiliation in your eyes, give me your depression and take mine’.
After Mubarak’s exit, Ramy returned to Tahrir Square only to be arrested and subject to torture for four hours by the army. Since the events of 2011 he has continued to campaign for democracy via his impassioned songs.
His music features broad guitar strums, stirring lyrics and his own impassioned vocals. Egyptian melodic gestures twist and wind seductively in the foreground, while straight-up indie-rock guitar accompaniment rumbles below.
Before 2011, Ramy Essam was not a household name in Egypt. In fact, he was simply a student with a guitar and a remarkable songwriting talent. Now his music is both a poignant reminder of the events of the Arab Spring and a jet stream of hope in the still simmering Egyptian political landscape.
Watch Ramy lead an Egyptian crowd in cries of Irhal!(Leave!) at a 2011 concert, here: