What is this Arabic song about?

El3ab yala: Why young Arabs love this song

One song throws the Arab world into turmoil - or at least the youngsters. "El3ab yala" is a kind of Arabic "Gangnam Style". And his message speaks from the heart of many.

The Arab world is once again troubled. A few rebels have gone to work. They stir up the traditional pop music scene. With unconventional texts and sounds, one song in particular creates a wave that is now sweeping across Europe. Mostly young consumers make fun of it, make crazy music videos and upload them to YouTube. It has something of the Gangnam-style fever from South Korea.

The hype is called Mahragan, which means something like festival music or underground music. The top stars are currently two unpretentious young men who call themselves Oka & Ortega. "El3ab yala" is their current song, which turns everyone's heads. The original alone was viewed more than 115 million times on YouTube in around six months. Young and old - and increasingly German-Arabs too, can sing along to the song. In any case, one is constantly asked about it between Flensburg and F├╝ssen.

Sprouted a few years ago in the streets of the poorer districts of Cairo, this new style of music is increasingly displacing classic pop stars like Amr Diab, who are still grappling with the fact that they either openly sided with the ruling dictators in the Arab Spring of 2011 or mute and mute have remained unsubstantiated. Where Amr Diab, from his prominence something like the Michael Jackson of the Arabs, once surrounded by pretty, lightly clad blondes and swanky cars in bright sunshine sang and danced in the hippest places in the world, the new stars come with cool clothes, Rasta Curls and cheeky mouths - right next door.

Oka & Ortega, aka Muhammad Salah and Ahmed Mustafa, combine rapper attitude with classic Arabic pop and electronic sounds. The music is fun and played at weddings, festivals and concerts. The lyrics are often peppered with provocations, sarcasm and humor. With older and more conservative people this naturally meets with little approval, which gives the music a certain note of protest.

The sound that has advanced to a mass sound (also called Electro-Schaabi) now sets the pace. Schaabi originated as early as the second half of the 20th century in the working-class districts of Cairo as a music genre for the simpler people. For a while, viewed with disdain by the upper class, bands like Oka & Ortega now appear on large concert stages, advertise global corporations and are invited to television shows.

The song "El3ab yala" tells of the weaker self. Whenever you have decided on something, someone shows up and destroys your resolutions: "El3ab yala" - Come on, play. Have fun! Accelerate! You are resolving to concentrate more on yourself and to become calmer, hum, someone whispers to you: "El3ab yala". You want to keep your hands off the water pipe, cigarettes or other drugs, someone promptly shouts "Eshrab yala" - "Just smoke!" You intend to become more religious and pray against your own will, when the devil comes around the corner and lures you with the words: "El3ab yala".

There is nothing provocative about the whole thing at first sight, but it sums up the situation of many young people in the Arab world like a parable. You take on things, want to achieve goals, show ambition, and then something comes up. In an environment as politically, economically or socially unstable as can be found in the Arab world, this is everyday life. But don't worry, most of them don't look at the song philosophically, they just go for it. But see for yourself ...