Egypt's Musicians Syndicate bans popular rapper Marwan Pablo

Eslam Omar , Sunday 3 Oct 2021

Egyptian popular rapper Marwan Pablo was banned from performing in public by the Egyptian Musicians Syndicate on Saturday in the wake of the backlash to what transpired in his long-awaited comeback concert.

 Marwan Pablo

In a strongly worded statement, the syndicate cited an offence made towards the values of a well-known religious hymn as well as the use of profanities that shocked the Egyptian society.

During a concert held at Al-Manara Arena on Friday, Pablo — who is not a member of the syndicate and operates under the one-day license system — featured a guest Palestinian rapper, Shabjdeed, who sang a modified version of ‘Mawlay’ — an iconic hymn made popular by the esteemed Naqshbandi — as a salute to his host.

Shabjadeed changed the word “Mawaly” (‘My Lord’) into “Marwan” and continued the intro that could be translated into: “I am at your door, opening my hands (for prayers), who do I have (but you)?”

On Sunday, following the syndicate’s decision and the controversy the incident spurred, Shabjdeed issued an apology to Egyptians, the global Muslim community, the music entities involved, and Pablo.

The Palestinian rapper said in a story on his Instagram account that he “didn’t mean to offend but, on the contrary, wanted to show respect for the culture,” adding that this was caused by his lack of experience with the crowd.

One of the most popular rappers in the country, the 25-year-old Pablo — most known for his earlier track ‘El-Gemeiza’ — is among the top listened to singers locally, with almost a million subscribers on all his platforms despite going on hiatus for almost a year.

His comeback music video ‘Ghaba’ has 18 million views on YouTube alone since it was released in February, with each of his other songs racking up millions of streams across all platforms.

Pablo’s ban adds to rappers and mahragan singers’ troubles with the syndicate — helmed by veteran singer Hany Shaker — which has recently prohibited the usage of recorded music during public performances, obligating all artists to include at least eight musicians when performing live.

The barred rapper still has the chance to appeal his case before the syndicate, however, he has not so far.

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