'Shayed Qusorak' (Build your Palaces), an Egyptian classic composed and performed by the late Sheikh Imam and penned by Egypt’s late "Poet of the People" Ahmed Fouad Negm, was revisited in a fresh and audacious collaboration between Egyptian band Eskenderella and Palestinian band Yalalan.
Released on YouTube and circulated via social media platforms on 25 September, the song was recorded during Yalalan’s Egypt tour last June.
The song is the second product of a collaboration between both bands in which they pay homage to Imam and Negm, the first being Ya Falastiniyyeh (O Palestinians, 1968), another masterwork from the Egyptian duo's repertoire, released earlier in August.
Behind the revisiting of Shayed Qusorak stands Samer Jaradat, one of the most celebrated independent music producers in Palestine today, and also a percussionist at Yalalan.
Commenting on this collaboration in an interview with Ahram Online last June, Jaradat stated that selecting these two specific songs from Sheikh Imam’s repertoire constituted the “perfect choice to embody the encounter between Yalalan and Eskenderella.”
Yalalan Group for Music and Singing was founded in 2005 by a group of friends who were studying at Birzeit University as well as the National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah.
Performing together in a university troupe called Sanabel, they were revisiting and creating covers for songs that spoke to their grievances and thoughts, including nationalist songs, muwashahat (singular: muwashah, a genre of classical Arabic music that came to light in Al-Andalus — now southern Spain — and is an important facet of Tarab), as well as selections from the Arabic musical heritage, especially focusing on the period of the 1920s and 30s. The group thus “took it upon themselves to disseminate the Palestinian and Arab musical tradition as a unified voice while they transmit their artistic and national message,” says the group's official Facebook page.
Founded in 2005 by oud master and singer Hazem Shaheen, Eskenderella started playing in underground venues in Egypt before they became widely recognised, “shifting between revivals of the nation's classic tunes and ventures into new compositions,” according to their Facebook page.
Some of Eskenderella’s inspirations include famous Egyptian musicians Sayyed Darwish and Sheikh Imam as well as colloquial poets Salah Jaheen, Fouad Haddad, Ahmed Fouad Negm and Amin Haddad.