Somethings in life are just meant to be together. What would cartoons be like without Tom and Jerry? Sandwiches without peanut butter and jelly? Late night snacks without milk and cookies? Music without Libyan beats and lyrics?
I bet you didn’t see that last one coming. Despite what you think you may know, Libyan music has a long, rich, and oftentimes entertaining tradition. From the singing Bedouin poems to February 17th Revolution-inspired rap lyrics, Libyans can and will turn anything into a darbuka (also called tablah/doumbek/goblet drum); and can drop a rhyme faster than the REAL Slim Shady standing up.
I can guarantee that while listening to these songs you will start dancing in your car, office, or street corner. So sit back, relax, and let us be your DJ today.
*DISCLAIMER- I cannot be held responsible for anyone seeking out their own Libyan dance partner (same sex of course cuz we be halal like that).*
Here are 10 Libyan songs you MUST add to your playlist.
1. Dania Ben Sassi – "Agrawli Itri Nnegh"
What Libyan playlist could call itself complete without droppin’ some Amazigh music? The Amazigh are Libya's indigenous people; a people that managed to stand firm in the onslaught of Gaddafi's desire to force Arabization and erase the annals of history. Hats off to my Amazigh peeps. First people = First song on my playlist :)
Dania Ben Sassi dedicated this song to the mothers of our martyrs (Allah yerhamhum). She tells them to dry their tears. Their sons are our heroes, and have restored our dignity and pride. Truer words have never been spoken.
2. Khalid Zintani – "Bismallah Awal Fe Badee"
Eminem has nothing on this lyrical master from the west of Libya. A legend in his own time, Zintani is known for his improv-style of spoken song. The simple Bedouin in the song makes a valiant effort to woo a city girl, who even says no to some gelato. Who doesn't like ice cream? Alas, her heart was already captured by a metrosexual city boy in a Marley shirt.
3. Ibn Thabit featuring MC Swat – "La Shek"
What would happen if you struck a match to the right combination of hydrogen and oxygen? Probably the same thing that happened when you combined our 2011 revolution with the phenomenal talent of two Libyan hip hop stars. An explosion ... of music (lol). La Shek serves as a reminder that the seeds of revolution MUST be nurtured within each one of us.
4. Khaled M featuring Lowkey – "Can't Take Our Freedom"
On the surface, this English-language inclusion may seem like the odd man out. But Libyan American hip hop artist Khaled M's song (featuring British rapper Lowkey) erases any perceived delineation between those of us born and raised in the opposition abroad and those who not only severed, but obliterated the chains of dictatorship that were simply an accident of birth.
Who better to do that than the scion of one of Libya's unsung heroes (Allah yirhama)? A man who did the impossible and staged a daring escape from Gaddafi's own notorious Alcatraz, and then topped THAT off by trekking all the way to neighboring Tunisia with Gaddafi henchmen right at his heels the entire way. Mad props to Khaled M's baba.
5. Baba’s Song – "Aish Fukrik Ya Galb"
There are some songs that stand out in your memories. They provide the same sort of comfort as a warm cup of hot chocolate on a blustery day. This is that song. I'm just going to call it Baba's song. Because once upon a time, in a scene repeated in every Libyan household across the world, there I was clapping and shaking my diaper-clad butt while Baba turned whatever was available into a darbuka.
I prefer that to getting all literal with this Libyan-version of a reggae song; meant to remind you to not dredge up memories best forgotten.
6. Asma Saleem – "Dmak Ma Jab"
Our own nightingale, Asma Saleem, covers a famous Libyan song. One that tells of the heartbreak that comes from loving someone who doesn't love you back. All they do is hurt you. Instead of wasting your tears, chalk it up as a lesson learned. Word.
7. Maendekish Mushkela
In this Eastern Libyan song, a young man has fallen head over heels in love, and maybe even back over again (based on his level of enthusiasm). He waxes poetic on how in love he is, and gets the necessary ribbing from his friends for it. They try to break it down and tell him to not take things too seriously. Hakuna Matata ... no worries. But the poor besotted boy can't think straight because his heart is on FIRE.
8. Adel Abdelmajed – "Hiz Al Shoog"
Adel Abdelmajed was born with a voice destined to breathe life into songs of love. The warmth of his deeply held, expressive emotions remove even the slightest stain of mediocrity from his voice. We FEEL the depth of his emotions as he reminisces on who he loved. His recollection brings him such obvious joy and happiness.
9. Aghani Thilata Banat
I play no favorites when it comes to choosing songs. Leave your politics at the door and hang up your allegiances on the coat rack. It's ALL about the music. That's the only disclaimer I'll give for this song.
Hilarity and forthrightness are a traditional couple in the East of Libya. This song has all that and more. It is meant to warn the unsuspecting of a potential trap that lays before them; one cloaked in tradition.
It was tradition that prompted the gent in question to agree to a family-arranged marriage, sight unseen. He was such a dedicated son, he was willing to try THREE times (with hilarious results for us) before finally giving up.
Along the way he learned some important life lessons. Sometimes traditions aren't all they're cracked up to be. And that love matters when it comes to marriage.
10. Salah Ghaly – "Eftekhry Inik Leibya"
Take note that I chose a song celebrating Libyan women and sung by a man (Eastern Libyan crooner Salah Ghaly). CHOSE being the key word, i.e. there was more than one.
An often unsung (pun intended) fact is how vital women were to our revolution. Not only by being bastions of moral support and armchair activists. They were also scouting and calling in enemy positions, running supply lines to those on the front lines, etc. They were successful because Gaddafi and his thugs underestimated our kind! They forgot that lions come from LIONESSES. This post is a StepFeed Community post, written by a guest contributor. Alaa Badi also blogs at Lala’s Ramblings . If you’re interested in contributing to the StepFeed Community, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.