And the Winner is…

First of all, I realize I should have posted a link to the voting-event when voting was underway, so… sorry.

Anyway, out of the three entries selected, the one that got the most votes was Edd Abbas’ remix.

Now let me tell you, I was expecting some wild things to come out of this contest. I was expecting bands to make their own live tunes and DJs to reinvent beats. So when the results were announced as being “hip hop”, “rock”, and “fusion”, I was psyched. Then I heard the entries, and realized that having a non-hip hop winner would not work out this time, since the other two entries were not that good, the entries by Ben Jewels and Steve Last (who would get my vote for second if I were allowed to vote more than once). Edd is already well known for his work with the band Fareeq el Atrash, so I thought someone who hasn’t gotten much publicity could benefit more. But if you just think “he’s already known” without specifying what he’s known for, you wouldn’t ever realize that he’s in fact known more for his lyrical abilities than his production skills (to the mass public at least).

In the end, a talented producer was unveiled and got what he deserved. Check the remix out and expect it on Rayess Bek’s next album.

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Go for Gaza. Stay for the Music!

Hello. It would be very cool and very charitable if you went to this thingy here.

BUT WHY SHOULD I INVEST TWENTY OF MY HARD-EARNED DOLLARS ON SOME CONCERT?

Well, as you might know, Israel has been picking on us all, and being douchebags in general, for quite some time now.  One of their latest delightful atrocities was attacking a harmless flotilla that belonged to the Free Gaza Movement, carrying aid supplies to Gaza… in international waters. The world was outraged, well a big majority of the world at least. So we Lebanese being the benevolent people we are decided to support Gaza. And support we shall, because all proceeds will go to the Free Gaza Movement.

I TOO WOULD LIKE TO SUPPORT GAZA, BUT WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

Well…

-Fareeq el Atrash: The best funk-rock-rap band in Beirut, who have literally never sucked… I swear.

Lazzy Lung: In a sea of bands trying to emulate that “Western” sound, they are by far the best darn ones yet. Catchy as hell too.

-Pop Will Save Us: Frankly, I have nothing to say to convince you why you should see PWSU, because I have neither seen them live myself nor purchased (or downloaded) their album. What’s certain is, they play poppy-dance-type stuff, and they come with the whole  package, so I guess it wouldn’t kill you to check them out, or just get a drink or something, I dunno…

-La Gale:  Swiss-Lebanese  female rapper who raps in French, thus, I cannot understand much of what she says, so you’re on your own for this one.

-Lumi: Turns out they’re alive. Well they’re notorious for their scarce live-appearances, but that shouldn’t be your motivation to see them. Blending rock with electronica isn’t that big an innovation these days, but luckily, they did it right. It’s not trip-hoppy like SoapKills though, it leans more towards, well, “synth-rock”.

Zeid & The Wings: One of the bigger groups around, Zeid Hamdan’s latest project features the traditional staples of rock music, as well as some things you might have not seen before, like some nay, and the occasional Arabic lyrics. It’s not really like The New Government, or SoapKills, it’s just its own thing, that’s all that can be said really.

-Rayess Bek: I think his band are still in town after performing on the 6th of June. So for those who missed them, now is your chance, they’re not here everyday. In fact, the 6th was their first time-ever here in Lebanon. Even Rayess Bek himself without the band was a rarity, until he came back in April and did some shows, so you’re in luck that you get to see his socio-political Franco-Arabic rhyming commentaries laid against live electro-acoustic-oriental-jazz beats, as opposed to pre-recorded ones. In case they’re not here though, you really shouldn’t complain either.

-Hiba el Mansouri: Well basically, SoapKills 2.0, which is awesome, and so is Hiba.

-The Incompetents: Recently, The Incompetents bridged the gap in their lineup, recruiting Marc Codsi as their drummer. Full-lineup or not, The Incompetents are a bit sparse with their performances, so seeing them is worth your while, for I have forever admired their goofy awesomeness…  

-RGB: He’s a decent rapper by himself, but you better hope he and Zeid perform their ska-rock-rap material. Where else can you hear a  psuedo-homage to Bob Marley through Arabic rap?

– Tania Saleh: Acoustic-folk-rock Arabic songs from one of the local veterans!

Miah: I swear I have no idea, but I’m guessing French folk-pop or something… I dunno, surprise yourselves!

In conclusion: Go.

Thank you very much.

Show Review: Rayess Bek & Nayssam Jalal – Live @ Walimat Warde’ (April 24, 2010)

 

 

Ah, Rayess Bek: Once a staple of the local scene, now an international artist who keeps in touch with us whenever he can. Luckily, keeping in touch took on a physical sense when he returned here for a week of shows and promotions. The last of which took place in Walimat Warde’ on Saturday, April 24th.

 -Before the Show: First of all, big thanks to Sisi for keeping me company before the show started. Also, thanks to the person who reserved the table we sat at but never showed up.

 I know there isn’t much point in complaining about the usual lack of punctuality, but fuck…

 This would be the second time I see Ryaess Bek, the first being him solo in Zico House. It’s an escalation: Rayess Bek à Rayess Bek + Flute à Rayess Bek + Orchestra (June 6).

 -The Show: I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve forgotten certain details, one of which is the order of the songs, so I’ll just list them, trying my best to follow a chronological order.

 The opener was “30”, which also acts as the album opener. The set-up that night consisted of Rayess Bek on the mic, with a laptop, which he controlled via a MIDI controller, and of course, Nayssam Jalal filling in on the flute. Rayess Bek rapped his lines with vigor, and Nayssam accompanied him on flute. It’s nice hearing things live for a change. One thing I liked about Nayssam is that she wasn’t just some random flutist plucked out of her natural orchestra habitat and placed in a hip hop show. She was actually a hip hop chick, swaying, bobbing, and gesturing with her arms. This song features a part rapped by Rayess Bek’s former Aks’ser partner in crime, Eben Foulen. However, his part was replaced with some improvised jamming. That’s what makes a live show good: when it’s NOT exactly the same as what you’d hear on the album.

 I swear, I can’t remember the correct order, so we’ll do them as they come in the album keeping in mind that that they were not actually performed in that order, alrighty?

 “La Min?” was not an exception from any of the other songs, delivered just as powerfully, but a little less prominent flute here.

 The title track was “Khartech Aa Zamann” very passionately performed. Rayess Bek would tell his calamitous life-story starting from his grandfather being kicked out of his homeland to him seeking refuge from the 2006 war in Paris. He goes from calmly speaking the lyrics to yelling them with anguish and frustration.

 “Samm” was great, just like in Zico House, but with flute this time around.

 When “Manem” started, I didn’t recognize it. I forgot that he had reworked it for his album. The percussions came in, followed by the oud, and I was still at a loss. But as soon as the first couple lines were uttered, I was like “what the fuuu-“! It was good. One of the things I like about this set was that he didn’t just hype his new stuff and that’s it. He also revisited some of his past material.

 While we’re on the subject, he also surprised me with a performance of “Shoufo 7alon” from his debut album. Never in my lifetime did I imagine I’d hear the flute in it played live. This beat was actually created by Zeid Hamdan for the group SoapKills. Let me tell you something, the fact that Rayess Bek had been around for a long time played a big role in the reactions of the crowd. Some people had memorized the lyrics, from listening to his stuff as early as 2003. I was one of them, except I started around 2008. It was special to me, hearing the songs that were being blasted through my earphones on the bus all those months being performed live. When he delivers the line “btoftas min ree7t l’mazout” on-album, a sample of him coughing plays afterwards. So ingrained was that recording in the collective mind of the audience, that after he rapped the line live, the whole room was coughing. I swear.

 Also from his back-catalogue was “3am Be7ki Bel Sokout”. When he sang “sawte’ 3ale'”, he really meant it, because he yelled that at the top of his lungs.

 “Amercaineh”: Again, people knew it, they sang along.

 “Loubnen 7elem”: This one was to show us why it was crucial that we go down to Laique Pride the following day. And by God we did… I did at least.

 “Schizophrenia”: Very emotional. I never really liked it till I saw it live at Zico. That’s another effect of live music: not being able to skip to the next track, one might reconsider a certain piece of work.

 Back to the new ones. There was “Rap?” which has a wonderfully flowy flute riff.

 He asked in French “Who wants to bomb Iran?” before getting into “Keskonatten?”. There was a healthy amount of crowd-artist verbal exchange by the way.

 At one point, he got a bit irritated by the infamously talkative diners of Walimat. Honestly it wasn’t as bad as when Vahan Papazian played his Indo-electronic tunes there, but I guess Rayess Bek was just as picky as me. He argued “You people, you paid 10,000 L.L to see a live show, but what are you doing? You’re talking? Do you realize what you’re doing? You’re paying 10,000 L.L to do something you can do anywhere anytime for free!” FINALLY! Someone understands me and my bitching! *pride*

 “L’Homme de Gauche” was played. The calm tune that was rapped to escalated to climax in a fast-paced drums-flute duel, as the drums’ tempo got faster (Rayess Bek was manually triggering this shift with a dial on the machine before him) and the flute playing more rapid, both racing to the end of the track.

 The crowd wanted an encore. It was either “La Min?” or “3am Be7ke’ Bil Soukout”. Not being able to come to an agreement, Rayess Bek performed both, again. Talk about an insatiable appetite…

-After the Show: I’m glad he came back, better late then never. It was more live than Zico, with Nayssam Jalal on flute and all, but I’m still waiting for June 6, full orchestra. Purchased a copy of his CD, and will try putting together a review eventually. He also had some of his old CDs on sale, which some of you might not see as that big a deal, but I’d like you to know that you can’t find his stuff in stores anymore due to them being out of print, and a certain recall. So yeah, whoever bought them, good on ya!

 -Media:

*Photos by myself: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=425264&id=842365214

Show Review: Fundraising Concert for Artists Vol.1: I-Voice @ Zico House (April 17, 2010)

Yaseen of the Palestinian-Lebanese rap duo I-Voice was accepted at the London University in Ontario, Canada to complete his studies in sound engineering. The visa was in the bag, but some cash was still required. So, since the scene here is so supportive, some friends and artists, led by Serge Yared, decided to pitch in and throw a fundraiser concert at Zico House. The lineup included: Zeid and the Wings (Zeid Hamdan’s latest project), I-Voice (themselves…), Malikah, OkyDoky, Double A the Preacherman, Ram6, and the most prestigious guest in my opinion, Rayess Bek.

 -Before the Show: I’d like to dedicate this segment of the review to Ghalas Charara, expecting a swift glasses-shattering punch to the face afterwards.

 They said it would start at 8:00 PM. Then to be ultra-specific, they said that it’s the DJing that would start at 8:00 PM, and the actual performances an hour later, 9:00 PM… on the dot? Doing this is like telling people: “If you don’t have anyone to mingle with, instead of showing up at 8:00 PM and wasting an hour staring at a wall, come at 9:00 PM, because that’s when the actual show starts”. Excuse me if I somehow misinterpreted this message.

 8:45-ish: Arrive at Zico House. Pay fee of 20,000 L.L, which isn’t that bad, since it is a fundraiser after all. Expecting an eager crowd that has been busy socializing/ mingling/ chatting/ dancing for an hour now, I found a slightly less dense crowd. Ok, so low turnout is a big deal in this case. I mean, every person (and his/ her money) counts. But it was delayed by about… an hour. I have a statement to make later concerning this. Throughout this hour, I made up for my lack of mingling and socializing with whoever I knew…

 A little debate was started on the infamous PirateBeirut, which is actually starting to dry up on material to upload for the moment (that’s right, beotch). Rayess Bek is definitely against. And also, I do not aim to promote it, only raise awareness of its despicable deeds.

 There was also a strong media presence. Yaseen himself was interviewed as well as Kinda Hassan of Eka3, who had a table of their CDs available for purchase set up outside.

 EVENTUALLY, the performances started.

 -The Show: I liked the space this time. Usually, Zico House has had a either stage set up or a table for the turntables and CDJ decks.This time however, nothing, just beautiful empty space. First up was Zeid and his new band, The Wings, which consisted of himself on lead guitar, Marc Codsi (of Lumi) on rhythm guitar, Bachir Saade on nay, flute, and bass clarinet, Yasmine Ayyashi and Gihan El Hage on backing vocals, and Rita Okais on keyboard. The drums and bass were provided by a CD being played on one of the CDJ decks. They started out with a song called “Hkini” which has a very “deserty”-type sound. That of course, coupled with Zeid’s electro-dub style. It was actually their only song in Arabic. Zeid’s voice melted together with the voices of Yasmine and Gihan. Bachir’s flute playing was kinda neat, because I don’t think I’ve seen flute playing live that many times. Rita added minimal tunes on the little keyboard before her. Marc just supported Zeid on guitar. Not Lumi, I still want to see them someday. Following it was a song called “Cowards”. This one was in fact written for one of his previous bands, 3arab. A very good ska-punk piece originally, now with a hint of electronica. They continued with a more political number called “General Suleyman”. Zeid wanted some audience participation. Yes, there were enough people for it to count as an “audience”. He asked for a clap-along and for them to yell “go home” in response to various undesirable things mentioned in the lyrics of the song (ex. All the militiamen, etc..) They did indeed participate… To wrap up, they played Zeid’s own song “Castles of Sand”, a song about broken dreams. Bachir was on the bass clarinet for this one, which was quite interesting. I’d like to note that there were some technical difficulties with a microphone at one point… Is there never anything that goes off without a hitch in this city? 😛

 Following them was the guest of honor, Rayess Bek, who is playing several shows this week in three different locations in Hamra. Tonight, he would not have with him his flutist Nayssam Jalal from his band the Rayess Bek Orchestra and his groovebox, instead, a CD of instrumentals. He opened his set with a blast from the past, “Am Behki Bil Soukout”, the title track from his debut album. It was nice, especially because it gave us something to compare what was about to come next to; Before/after. He continued with a new one: “La Min?” As I’ve said once before, the beats on the new album are some of Rayess Bek’s best work yet, and back to the live show, a very nice delivery as well. He continued with another new one, and a personal favorite of mine, which would be “Samm”. Again, very powerful delivery. Finally came “Schizophrenia”, another oldie, but not as old as “Am Behki Bil Soukout”. This one is a more emotional and intimate one. For a portion of it, he sat down on the floor, becoming level with some of the audience members, making his storytelling more personal. With that, he concluded his set… or did he? RGB grabbed a mic and began beatboxing while Rayess Bek rapped the lyrics to his song “Amercaineh”. That doesn’t happen daily; very neat. I was glad to finally see Rayess Bek rapping live, but wasn’t too thrilled about the fact that the music was pre-recorded. Good news though, you and I may see him and his full band, the Rayess Bek Orchestra perform live for the official physical release of his album, on June 6th.

 Afterwards was someone I had wanted to see but had never got the chance before. It was electronic musician Faysal Bibi, who performs under the alias, OkyDoky. I wanted to see him because I heard some of his work on the CD distributed at 7keeleh Vol.1, and thought it was pretty remarkable. I was also curious to see how the “pros” did electronic music. His setup consisted of a laptop, a program running on it, and to interact with that program, various MIDI controllers. He started out with a very techno-y bit. Noteworthy was his use of voice alteration software to “robotize” his own voice (vocoder?) Following that was a piece that sounded like a fusion of drum n’bass and noise, and featured a memorable looped sample of a man yelling “shou ya’akho l’sharmouta?”. He wrapped up with a piece that sounded like “electronic death metal”, with distorted guitar samples and death growls and everything. The guy was very lively too. Overall, it was certainly something special and he’s been added to my list of “newcomers to the scene who are awesome”.

 I only managed to catch a bit of Ram6’s performance, but I had to leave because SOMEONE didn’t show up on time. By “someone” I mean “everyone”… well 70% of everyone.

 Let me tell you exactly what happened that night. It’s a phenomenon I will call “Confitardiness”. Confitardiness, a portmanteau   of the words “confidence” and “tardiness”, is when one is deliberately late, or tardy, with the knowledge, and confidence, in the fact that no activity whatsoever will go on while he/she is absent. Somehow, on this night, everyone got together before the show and agreed to display some confitardiness, by not arriving on time. Unfortunately, they usually get their way, but if I ever work on some musical project and have to do a live show, I will make them like bullets. You blink you miss it. It might be an utter crap performance, but by God, you would not have caught that utter crap of a performance from the start.

One time someone said concerning this issue: “Hey, it’s Lebanon”. Well… why can’t we take an initiative and change Lebanon for the best? Late-ic Pride! Go!

 -After the Show: I dunno what happened with the rest of the acts that were supposed to perform afterwards. The acts were diverse, the sound was good, but the time management could have been better, and that was a direct effect of low turnout for some inexplicable reason. Actually it is explicable: confitardiness.

 The whole thing made 3,509$ and hopefully the future fundraiser event to come will work out better.

Lebanese Hip Hop Heroes Unite!

If you like Lebanese hip hop even just a teensy bit, be sure to come down to Zico House on the 17th of April. As the event page reads:

“as some of you might already know YASEEN (from the Palestinian hip hop act: I-Voice) has been accepted at the London University in Ontario (Canada) to do his graduate studies in sound engineering and managed to obtain his visa. Only funds for a start-up are lacking!

Knowing Yaseen and how hardworking he is, we — as an improvised collective of friends and fellow artists — decided to make a concert to collect the missing funds.

Our declared objective is to raise 7,000$. We hope this event and the one that will follow in the first week of May will allow us to reach this figure.”

A worthy cause no? So who’s playing then?:

Fareeq el Atrash (Arabic hip-hop-funk-rock band), I-Voice (Palestinian-Lebanese Arabic rap), Malikah (FEMALE Arabic rap), OkyDoky (Electronic music), Double A the Preacherman (English rap), Ram6 (Arabic rap), Rayess Bek (GODFATHER OF Arabic rap),  and Zeid Hamdan & RGB (Trip-hop-electronic-reaggae/dub & Arabic rap)!

But if you don’t want to support local music, I suppose I understand… *guilt guilt guilt >:(*

Come! Pay! Come (alternate meaning)!

Event page: http://www.facebook.com/omaralfil?v=feed&story_fbid=10150168688360215#!/event.php?eid=102662206442747&ref=ts

Bek’s Back in Beirut Baby!

I will now start using the blog to notify readers of events BEFORE they happen.

After almost two years of absence, Rayess Bek made his comeback to his hometown Beirut last September, BUT that was a very rainy night, and the show got cancelled. But now’s your chance to catch him again! Rayess Bek will be in Beirut for several live performances: April 17 @ Zico House (Along with a mythical lineup for a very worthy cause) — April 20 @ T-Marbouta — April 22 @ Mojo — April 24 @ Walimat Warde’. This time he will have with him Nayssam Jalal, the floutist for his band , the Rayess Bek Orchestra. He does not come here everyday!

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=108899332466277&ref=nf

Page  for Zico House event: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages&ref=mb#!/event.php?eid=102662206442747&ref=ts

Rayess Bek Previews are Up!

You can now listen to previews of Rayess Bek’s forthcoming album “Khartech Aal Zamann/ L’Homme de Gauche” on his official website here: http://www.rayessbek.com/

Initial Reaction: Very rich instrumentally. It has an even mix of organic and artificial. Some of it sounds very “SoapKills”-esque, because there’s elements of hip hop, electronic, ska/reggae, oriental, as well as jazz. This is actually some of his best production work yet. Lyrically, Rayess Bek is still politically and socially conscious.

Side-note: Some of you who have been watching the online series “Shankaboot” would have noticed that some of the music sounds familiar, well that’s because Rayess Bek contributed some background music for it!  Supposedly, he is going to also be involved in a concert in honor of the series on the 24th of April, along with Tania Saleh. More details revealed soon with any luck. 

Check out Shankaboot’s Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Shankaboot

Visit the official website: http://www.shankaboot.com/index.php