Artist Analysis: Fareeq el Atrash

Fareeq el Utrush

Photo by: Tanya Traboulsi. Logo by: Omar Khoury

-Name: Fareeq el Atrash (A pun on the name of the famed Arabic musician Farid El Atrash and Arabic for “Team of the Deaf” or “Deafman’s Team” (interpret it as you like)) 

-Members: Edd (Eddourd Abbas), Chyno (Nasser Al Shorbaji), FZ (Fayez Zouheiry), John Imad Nasr, Goo (Ghassan Khayyat), DJ Stickfiggr 

-Years Active: 2006-Present 

-Genre: Arabic Hip Hop (with rock and funk touches) 

-History: The first incarnation of Fareeq el Atrash was as a live jam band that played funk, psychedelic rock, and trip hop, not having specific songs, just going with the flow. This was around late-2003. The members were John Nasr on bass, Ghassan Khayyat on guitar, Rawad Choubassy on drums, Issam Raad on percussions and beats too I think, and DJ Stickfiggr on turntables. They were sometimes joined by Fouad Zakka on saxophone. One day, while trying to come up with a name for themselves, Issam blurted out the name “Fareeq el Atrash”, probably due to the fact that next to Rawad’s house in Raouche’ was a “super night club” (*cough*WHOREHOUSE*cough*) named after the Arabic musicican and singer, Farid El Atrash, and both Issam and John were fans of his work, so they went with it. Issam tragically passed away in a car accident in 2004. DJ Lethal Skillz, who had shown interest in doing a collaboration between them, was briefly brought in as a substitute for Stickfiggr, who was abroad. 

After a successful gig in 2005 at the infamous Beirut nightclub, The Basement, the band dissolved. 

John, Goo, and Stickfiggr then attempted to reform the band, this time with Rabih Sakr on drums and Wissam Karam on trumpet. They played one show, but after that, several issues came in the way, including each member having to leave the country in pursuit of their own personal careers and the 2006 Lebanese-Israeli conflict. 

John was left to fly solo, that is until Edd came along. Edd had been working with some other groups and as a solo artist around 2001 or 2002, rapping in English then later on reverting to Arabic. John and Edd had seen one another around but never actually talked until a friend of Edd’s introduced them. John heard Edd rhyme in Arabic and was greatly impressed by his laid back and intellectual style. So John started working with Edd on making him a solo album, producing and creating beats for him. 

Eventually, John would play a bigger part in the project when he would contribute his bass playing to the songs. It was around that time when Fayez Zouheiry would come into the picture. FZ was introduced to Edd while they were in university. He was a beatboxer who used to perform with another beatboxer as a duo. He continued beatboxing solo after his partner resigned from the duo they had going on. Edd would bring FZ in while he and John were recording and he was greatly impressed by their work so he joined in. And so this project transformed from a solo rap project to an unlikely “band”. When time came for them to play a show, they were asked to give themselves a name, and they finally decided on resurrecting the name of the original band John was in, Fareeq el Atrash, FZ giving it a new spin as well. 

Around 2008, they added a new member to the roster, Chyno. Nasser Al Shorbaji, or Chyno as he is known, has been a friend of the group for a long time and has been rapping with other groups and on his own in English. Edd and John asked him to try rapping in Arabic, so he did, and adopted it alongside his English rapping. He got to work closer with Edd in a play which consisted of a series of dreams where the story is told through rap entitled “Eddem el Safara Kein el Leil Tawil”. This play would showcase the onstage interaction and stage presence of Edd and Chyno, so it was just crazy not to ask him to join. DJ Stickfiggr has also performed live with the new incarnation of the group and Goo (Ghassan Khayyat) has been brought back in. 

Both Edd and Chyno went on to appear in separate tracks on DJ Lethal Skillz’s debut album “New World Disorder”, Edd on the track “Byin7aka” and Chyno with his close associate MC Zoog on the track “Scratching Skillz”. They have collaborated with DJ Lethal Skillz live for a street performance in support of Gaza. 

Fareeq el Atrash were also asked by the Iqra’ group, which is an Arabic language center based in Beirut that teaches speaking, reading, and writing in Arabic, to make them a song in honor of Beirut being World Book Capital for the year 2009. The result was a song called “Nammi Fekrak”. 

Edd, FZ, and Chyno, along with other prominent names in the local hip hop scene, recently participated in a workshop for local hip hop talent that covered everything from stage presence to beatboxing. 

They appeared in a movie made by Siska (6K) (former member of Kita3 Beirut) on Lebanese hip hop and contributed to its soundtrack. 

They have played in events like the Iqra’ shows, The Road to Kfifan Festival, and the International Day of Peace 2009, among others. 

They have distributed a pre-album. It was supposed to be the actual album, but these were recorded before Chyno was recruited, so they decided to redo the tracks with him on them. But instead of trashing the old tracks, they gave them away as a pre-album.

They released the finished-album on June 21st 2010 as part of Fete da la Musique.

 -Sound: I classify Fareeq el Atrash as alternative hip hop, because they are more than just a rap group, they are a rap “band”. There’s instruments being played live, and I greatly value that because I like the “human” element. The fact that when there’s a certain emotion present in the music or lyrics, every instrument carries that emotion along with it to the listener and that cannot be done when you just play the music on a laptop for example. I have the same philosophy towards other forms of music, especially electronic music, which these days has been summarized to a push of a button. Music should be human. It should be “alive”, reflecting the musician’s mood and personality. On the subject of the human-instrument bond, Fareeq el Atrash have a very special instrument that I don’t see that often in bands, let alone Lebanese ones. They have a beatboxer! This is no longer an issue of the connection of the human between his/her instrument, this is a human becoming the instrument itself! FZ has a very versatile voice that is capable of great vocal feats. He is always reliable in delivering a constant drumbeat and suitable sound effects. He also adds a touch of humor with his solo beatbox skits that can be about anything from narration on a football match that the band is playing in or a movie trailer starring the band as the saviors of the Lebanese music industry. John’s bass playing is very old school. It has a distinct funk and rock flavor to it, same applies to Goo. Both guitarists are in the same musical sphere, which is expected, as they have been at it since the earliest days of the very first group. Sometimes they are joined by a trombone player live and d drummer on some occasions. Musically, they are very faithful to the roots of hip hop, and add modern touches to it. It’s not just some techno music with random rhymes rapped over it. It is in every sense alternative.

On their pre-album, they showed their abstract side, experimenting with noise and effects, as well as a jazzier side to them, employing saxophone and clarinet.

Edd has a deep voice and a very unique style of rhyming. In recordings, he sounds very laid back and gives off that air of “wisdom”, as if he’s giving a very civilized lecture, telling his own personal side of the story with a series of alliterations, puns, and metaphors. He is not desperately trying to convince you that every single word he utters is 100% undeniable truth. No, he is merely content with just getting his opinion across. However, he takes on a more assertive tone during live shows, not yelling at the top of his lungs, more like adding some extra power to his words. I think this variation in tone is appropriate because in live shows you need to keep the audience on their feet and clutch their attention. 

Chyno raps in both Arabic and English. He has a softer voice than Edd. He raps in a more traditional energetic manner, in contrast to Edd. His rhymes though are quite similar to Edd’s, very witty and elaborative, which is why them working together is very logical and produces a smooth flow of quality. 



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2 thoughts on “Artist Analysis: Fareeq el Atrash

  1. Pingback: Album Review (+ DOWNLOAD): Fareeq el Utrush – “Fareeq el Utrush (Pre-album)” « Feel Notes

  2. Pingback: Fareeq el Atrash demo – review by Omar el Fil | Da Bandit Bay

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