It’s been a fruitful year for independent and quasi-independent music in the Middle East. It has seen a spurt in budding genres making headway across the region, such as Hip Hop and Electronic music. But when it comes to what listeners on Dandin are checking out, Tarab, Pop and Arabic Rock still rule the roost. Here are the ten most popular artists of the year on Dandin:
1- Zig Zag
For the second year running, Zig Zag aka Mohamed Ghanem, tops our list for most popular artist on Dandin. The dreadlocked Sufi-inspired crooner managed to release a spate of singles this year after completing his military service. Expect more to come from him in 2016.
A talent that belies her tender years, El Wedidi makes it look all so easy because her vocal technical proficiency is second to none. After a fruitful collaboration with the legendary Gilberto Gil, El Wedidi released her first full-length album solo album and remains a mainstay of the Nile Project.
Old school suave and always dressed to impress, Mohamed Mohsen reinterprets the songs of Egyptian heritage with his frankly outstanding voice. Also frequently collaborates with the talented poet Mostafa Ibrahim on his original compositions.
4- Osama Elhady
One of the young up-and-comers who’s already made tremendous headway since starting out only a few years ago, Elhady blends his pop/rock sensibilities with inflections of jazz and blues.
No introduction needed, probably Egypt’s most popular band, and definitely amongst its most prolific. 2015 saw Cairokee release their fourth studio album in almost as many years, Nas W Nas, and not surprisingly it was a roaring success.
A great voice steeped in Egyptian lore, but that doesn’t prevent Karawya from being bold, such as when previously collaborating with electronic producer Ismail Hosny on the album Eskimo. Fortuitously, she has just released a new album, Albak Zeham, as we approach the New Year.
Tunisian Bouhrizi, who often highlights as Neyssatou, is one of the region’s most underrated artists in our opinion. Supremely talented, with a heavenly voice, she is one of our all-time favourites. Just fantastic.
Jordan’s Autostrad describe their music as Mediterranean Indie and the band complements pithy lyrics with a festive feel. They know how to get a crowd going when playing live.
One of the most versatile Rock acts to be found in Egypt, Madina can do effortlessly cool jazz numbers, straight up rock and flighty pop tunes. They also love bringing guests on board, with collaborators that include Hany Adel, Zap Tharwat and Ramy Essam.
10- Ismail Seleit
A very special musician. First off the bat Seleit does instrumentals, beautiful, heavenly and ethereal. He’s worked with Aly Talibab and Youssef Abouzeid in Al Manzouma. And just to cap it all of, he also makes effects pedals.