Metgharabiin was released on July 21st and is Ramy Essam’s fifth album, following Resala Ela Magles El Amn (2017), Mamnoua' (2014), El Masala (2012), Manshourat (2011). The new release is the culmination of his working during the COVID-19 pandemic when he was unable to tour. It is also the first of his projects which he has co-produced, together with producer Johan Carlberg. As a result, Metgharabiin presents a departure from Essam’s usual Egyptian and North African- influenced rock, integrating elements from electronic music throughout the album.
Named after the title song of the album, Metgharabiin explores Ramy Essam’s own experiences and feelings of being an outsider both in his own country, and in exile. He started writing the leading track in his last weeks of living in Egypt when he was banned from performing his music and finished in Sweden. Metgharabiin explores feelings of loneliness and struggle, but also of resilience and hope in being an outsider.
The rest of the album follows similar themes and revolves around Essam’s own experiences. It speaks of the complexities involved in being one of the leading voices of the Egyptian revolution, the followed censorship and persecution, and the ups and downs of living in exile in Sweden and Finland. The album also focuses on other Egyptian activists who have suffered persecution and imprisonment or have been forced into exile. The songs El Amiis El Karooh and Lagl Tentesri were written by imprisoned Egyptian activists Galal el-Behairy and Ahmed Douma respectively, reflecting on the themes of struggle, separation, freedom, and hope.
As one of the leading figures at Tahir Square in Cairo in 2011, Ramy Essam was censored, arrested, tortured, and banned from performing following the failure of the Egyptian revolution. In 2014, he fled Egypt and arrived in Malmö, Sweden where he was the ICORN resident until 2016. Since then, Essam has continued making music and has collaborated with a number of artists, including PJ Harvey and Tom Morello. He remains a strong voice for freedom and social justice in Egypt, the Middle East, and globally, challenging oppression through his songs and activism.
You can listen to Ramy Essam’s new album Metgharabiin (Outsiders) on SoundCloud and Spotify.
You can find out more about Ramy Essam on his website, his Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook profiles, and on his ICORN resident profile.