Ask the birds in cairo

Felukah is a major hip-hop artist hailing from Egypt.  She was born Sara El Messiry right outside of Cairo, which is considered almost a Middle Eastern Hollywood. When she was eighteen, El Messiry moved to New York, which was three years ago now. Her stage name comes from the traditional Egyptian boat that would travel along the line. She claims it is an homage to her ancestry and “ride the wave” mentality. Her style confronts the very nature of what an Arab woman is supposed to represent in the patriarchal society of Egypt, and furthermore the Middle Eastern world.

The hip-hop scene in Egypt is very much dominated by men, so she is very representative of what female rappers can offer on that scene, becoming an example. Even though Egypt has a long history of successful female artists, a lot of female artists are forced to operate within certain parameters due to simply being a woman, limiting them immensely. However, Felukah defies a lot of these.  Her biggest song, “Ask the Birds in Cairo,” which is about connections between flying and feeling inspired is different from what many other female rappers are doing at the same time, or at least what is expected from them.

In this video, she is only wearing a tank with sweatpants, whereas many new artists might feel a flashy look is almost required for their image. She has received comparisons to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu, due to her calm and soothing flow. Along with her tomboy and lowkey aesthetic, she challenges many expectations. During a time where many female artists might feel the only path to success is to follow the trailblazers of sexual liberation and empowerment, she chooses a different path., While the female artists that empower other women are extremely important, new artists might feel that is the only path to mainstream success as female hip-hop artists. However, she presents something different, at least for the year 2021.

African countries tend to be much more conservative and centered around the patriarchy, Egypt being no exception. They are quick to shame and put down women that might not want to cram themselves into the box that society wishes to force themselves into. Instead, Felukah is now being celebrated for breaking some of these taboos and boundaries present in her home country. She spreads the message that women should be able to express themselves how they see fit, and not feel the need to compete with other women, whereas the music industry might push female artists to compete with another as if they actually needed to fight for a spot.

Throughout her videos and music, El Missery wishes to do away with the stigmas that follow women who engage in certain activities or present themselves a certain way. The constant scrutiny is a major burden for the women of her country, and she pushes to do anything she can about it.

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