Marwan Pablo is a member of the newest generation of Egyptian rappers. He’s only just getting started and has already made a big impact on the Egyptian Hip Hop scene. Vice credited him as being the Godfather of Trap in Egypt. He originally began his career writing lyrics for his raps and he eventually evolved into a producer for his music as well.
In an interview with Scene Noise, a Middle Eastern hip-hop site with a focus on Egypt, Pablo talks about how he used to feel when it came to his music. He said “thoughts locked me up in a f****** up cage that holds me back from making music.” He said these limitations were not just about music, it was about life, so when he was able to change his life view he changed his view on music.
With his new found sense of freedom, Marwan Pablo’s released his newest track “Free.” Pablo raps in Arabic about how in our world you need to be “crazy” to be free. Crazy is a metaphor for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Along with his song, Pablo also released a music video. In his music video Pablo gets creative with the stylistic choices made. The video was directed by Mohsen Sherif and Muhammad Ibrahim. It begins with Pablo by the water with a fire lit, and the word Free graffitied on the concrete. A montage then begins of Pablo riding with his head out of a car, smoking, hanging out with his friends, then at a graveyard, then wearing what waste collectors wear while rapping in the street. The video alternates between playing the clips without a significant edit on them and then transitions into distorted versions of those same clips. In the last minute of the video a new set of clips is used in a montage. The same idea of transitioning between editing styles to distort the clips is used. At one point there is a clip of Pablo on a horse inside a mansion. This is meant to be an example of what he talks about in his song. When one is under the influence they aren’t grounded, instead they are “free” to see and imagine things they might not when they are sober. Along with the editing choice to distort the clips, the video is primarily filmed with cloudy skies or at night creating a different ambiance for the video. I would say that the choice of lighting perfectly matches the vibe that the song itself gives. Different parts of the video are overlaid with photographs of Pablo in the scenes of the video. These photographs look like they were shot on film, which match the vibe of the video. I liked the choice made to mix media types to almost create a collage, but in the form of a video.
This video is available with English closed captions
While to the average American listener Pablo’s song may not seem provocative in terms of subject matter, speaking positively about drug use is not accepted in Egyptian society. Knowing this and releasing this song shows Pablo practicing his new philosophy of making his music despite what people may say about it. Although his video portrays drug use in a positive light, in a way Pablo critiques society. In his lyrics he recognizes that one cannot feel “free” and be sober at the same time. Whether he meant to or not this critiques society for making someone like Pablo reach the point where he can’t feel “Free” in any other way.