For those unfamiliar, Shaabeh bi T-Marbouta is a new series of events held at T-Marbouta (as the name implies) showcasing local MCs and hip hop artists. Well I’m a Beiruti and the majority of alternative local acts I’ve seen have been from Beirut as well. I had heard from a friend that Saida has had some hip hop action going on for a while and when he shared this track with me, I was intrigued.
As luck would have it, the second Shaabeh featured a couple Saidawi rappers, but this third edition had the whole package (not literally): Illegitimate Mind Disorder (or IMD), Bull Pup, XZE, Sawt el Dameer, and even the young producer Big Flow who provided the beats for all the aforementioned MCs.
First up was Sawt el Dameer rapping in Arabic. Content-wise it wasn’t anything new; politics, society, the usual. He certainly did not lack energy or charisma though.
Next was Bull Pup who raps in English, starting off with an acapella. Right off the bat you could tell that his style and subject matter were somewhat different. He was more focused on punchlines, wordplay, and cultural references, all of which don’t get enough love, even in English. I can’t recall the entire performance exactly, but I think the style of beats doesn’t quite match his lyrics. More laid-back tunes might better suit the lyrics than aggressive ones.
After two solo performances, he supported XZE, who also recites his rhymes in English, on backing raps. XZE’s style was more along the lines of Jedi mind Tricks or Immortal Technique. Though I’m not too much into that style, he did it well. That is until he did a second track which could basically fit right into a Masari album. Well he did warn of this being a club track, so I guess… no, even if you give warning, there is no need for this crap here in this non-club setting. The irony was that the song was aimed at females, and there were only a handful of ladies present.
Finally, it was Illegitimate Mind Disorder, the duo consisting of MCs Menace and Mobin. They too adopted that “philosophical” lyrical style XZE had used earlier, but I’d say they were the best to do it overall. I must also add that Menace rapped a few verses in Arabic and they were just as good as his English ones.
All in all, I think this has proven to me that the fiercest competitors Beiruti rappers have are the Saidawis, who clearly have the upper hand when it comes to English language rhymes.
So make sure to check them out whenever they’re in town.