Unveiling the Hidden (Kachf el Mahjoub)


Jawad Nawfal and Mazen El Sayed, better known by their stage names of Munma and El Rass, met for the first time in Beirut, during the summer of 2011. A common friend told Jawad wonders about an MC who rapped and slammed in the classical Arabic language, as opposed to the vernacular Lebanese dialect. The two musicians met in a small café in Beirut's Hamra neighborhood, spoke of music, argued about politics, and decided to collaborate at once. They began working on tracks the following day. A month later, they had already produced a dozen sketches, instrumental beds and acapella vocal tracks. These demos eventually landed in the hands of Ziad Nawfal and Fadi Tabbal, who set out to bring to life the duo's first recorded album. Kachf el Mahjoub (the title is from a Sufi master-work penned some 900 years ago) was eventually released as a limited edition of 500 CDs, during a launch event at then-budding alternative venue Metro al Madina in Hamra in 2012. These CDs went out of print in record time, as can be expected. El Rass & Munma collaborated sporadically during the next ten years, but never fully grasped the level of musical intensity and explosive tension attained on this first outing. It has been a longstanding dream of Ruptured's to produce a vinyl version of this album.

Kachf el Mahjoub is a landmark album in Lebanon's alternative music scene, and the Mena region's hip-hop and indie scenes writ large. At the time of their collaboration, El Sayed was a prolific writer and musician, at ease with a variety of instruments, notorious for his masterful flow in the classical Arabic language, with lyrics tackling both social and political sensitive subjects; Nawfal has previously released an impressive number of albums and EPs, exploring downtempo electronica and ambient dubstep, for a number of Lebanese and international labels. The collision of the former's brazen, slammed vocals and the latter's harsh beats works wonders on Kachf el Mahjoub, Munma's sound-world perfectly fitting El Rass's agitated discourse, alternating between broken beats, elaborate percussion, and ambient layers of synths. At times reminiscent of mutant hip-hop outfit Shabazz Palaces, at others of the collaboration between dubstep producer Kode9 and the late vocalist The Space Ape, this album is an uncanny meeting of Arabic hip-hop and electronica, an exceptional event in the realm of contemporary Lebanese alternative music. Includes remix by Sary Moussa and a bonus track. Remastered for vinyl by Cedrik Fermont. Pressed by Mother Tongue in Verona.