Earlier this month Egyptian songstress Maryam Saleh’s Nouh Al Hamam landed a new Tunisian-based recording effort on our radar: Sawtuha (Arabic for “her voice”), a compilation of female artists from Libya, Tunisia and Egypt who are exercising their rights to freedom of expression. The full album features Sudanese-American hip-hop scholar Oddisee, the production hand of Olof Dreijer (one half of the Knife), and remixes from French producer Blackjoy and Austrian beatsmith Brenk.
Sawtuha, released by German label Jakarta Records, takes the listener on a journey through French pop, Arabic infused hip-hop and accordion-heavy production.
On the Oddisee-produced languid ballad Figurine, Nawel Ben Kraiem‘s vocals nod towards classical French influences (she sounds like a cross between Edith Piaf and Barbara), and yet they’re layered with enrapturing Tunisian melodies. Olof Dreijer’s distorted beats and pitched-down vocals provide a backdrop to Medusa‘s flow on the head-nodding Naheb N3ch Hayati.
A protest against “corruption, despotism, patronisation and narrow-mindedness”, Sawtuha is purposeful fresh air. As Jakarta Records explains: “Sawtuha, the album that is the product of [a] two-week session, is a vital encouraging testament of rebellion against the repression of democratic rights, gender inequality, and lack of inclusion”.
Stream the full compilation below.