Named after American iconic filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, the agony rap hit Tarantino featuring Marwan Pablo is currently leading YouTube trending music topics in Egypt with over a million views.
Pablo started performing with Cairokee in recent years during live shows around the country.
Also trending on other streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes and Anghami, are other hits from the album including three named for cinema figures (Tarantino, James Dean and Johnny Cash), two for cities (Roma and Costa Rica) and one for a football legend (Roberto), reflecting the album’s main theme of escaping into imagination.
Roma breaks the band’s previous tradition of filming music videos for every song on an album. The only video, directed by Mohamed El-Zayat, is for the song Johnny Cash. The rest of the tracks are only boosted by light-animated illustrations from artist Muhammad Mustafa.
Nostalgia and imagination
Most of the album’s lyrics are written by Cairokee’s lead singer Amir Eid, except for Montasser Hegazy, who writes of the melancholic fear of missing in Matwhashneesh; Mohamed Shafaay who writes of loss in nostalgia in Basrah w Atoh; and Sherif Elhawary’s who writes of the battle with anxiety in a world of falseness in Zaman El Kalam, which is the only track that is not sung by Eid.
Amr Eid is confident, but humble and honest, in his self-discovering lyrics for the songs Roma, Johnny Cash and Roberto. He turns more to romantic dreaming of an imaginary world in James Dean, Costa Rica and Nefsy Ahbek, the latter a romantic duet that features young Moroccan singer Sara Moullablad.
The album also includes the ambitious but defeated dreamy anthem Ana Negm, the main theme for the TV series Rivo by director Yehia Ismail that stars two Cairokee members; Eid and Tamer Hesham.
Notably, the album lacks the confronting rebellious lyrics which Cairokee is most popular for, like earlier hits Nefsy Afaggar, Dinasour, El-Sekka Shemal, Ehna El-Shaab, Nas w Nas and Matloob Zaeim.
Western Flavours Only
Musically, the album is generally dominated by indie rock forms, coloured with indie pop pads and EDM synth sounds as well as rap grooves in some songs, with the dominating mellow melodies tending towards rap styles, especially in verses.
With most compositions written in minor keys, the oriental scales and Shaabi flavors – which was frequently used by Cairokee in previous hits like El-Keif, Kan Lak Maaya, Gharib fi Belad Ghariba and Am Gharib – are obviously absent in Roma, whose mood is mostly solidly united.
As a vocalist, Eid sounds confident using his trademark throaty voice styles in this album, but his mumble rap techniques makes it harder to follow the lyrics clearly, especially with his characteristic pronunciation of phonetics and articulation.
US and beyond
Having recently performed in Saudi Arabia and UAE, Cairokee is currently touring across the United States before another tour in Europe that will see concerts in Paris (19 November), London (20 November) and Berlin (23 November).
They will also perform in Cairo at Al-Manara Arena on 11 November.
The Black Stars
Consisting of Eid, Hesham, El-Hawary, Adam El-Alfy and Sherif Mostafa, Cairokee was founded in 2003 with their first big success in 2011 after the release of their hit single Sowt El-Horreya (“The Voice of Freedom”).
They then cemented their popularity with a number of albums, including El-Sekka Shemal (2015), Naas w Naas (2015), A Drop of White (2017) and The Ugly Ducklings (2019), to become among the top bands in the region.
The five childhood friends initially launched their band under the name of The Black Star playing some Arabic and English covers in various gigs in Egypt before the name ‘Cairokee’ popped. The name merges two words – Cairo and karaoke – to mean the band is singing along with Cairo.
The albums tracks are competing with many other trending songs of the month including Bahaa Sultan’s Delwaqti Agabnako, Tamer Hosni’s Haytna and Donia Samir Ghanem’s Na7mou7, among other new releases.