Palestinian-Egyptian Artist Ma-Beyn
Palestinian-Egyptian Artist Ma-Beyn. Image Credit: Supplied

Text: Ma-Beyn, the multifaceted artist hailing from the spirited cultural scene of Cairo, is set to grace the main stage at this year's Sole DXB 2023 in Dubai on Sunday the 10th of December. In an exclusive interview with The Kurator, Ma-Beyn delves into her unique musical journey, bridging the realms of Fine Arts and Philosophy with the world of hip-hop and rap. Reflecting on this evolution, she notes, "Both spaces explore social commentary, culture, and identity." Her background in fine arts and philosophy has honed her ability to question and explore, shaping her approach to music as a medium for cultural expression.

Ma-Beyn's music is a fusion of diverse genres, including funk, disco, heavy metal, and classical music. Embracing collaboration and the diversity of her vocal instrument, she emphasizes, "Different cultural, emotional, and historical connotations prompt you to write in a certain way." Rejecting the notion of confining herself to a specific style, Ma-Beyn finds inspiration in her nomadic approach, ensuring her music reflects the various phases of her life.

The Egyptian rap scene played a pivotal role in sparking Ma-Beyn's interest in hip-hop. "Rap is used to express real human experiences," she explains, emphasizing its role in providing a voice for the youth. However, she resists categorization as a rapper, preferring to avoid labels that create expectations. Her journey includes a shift from writing in English to expressing herself in Arabic, a transition that deepened her connection with her Arab identity. Through her music, Ma-Beyn aims to contribute to the contemporary Arab identity, incorporating cultural references and creating a new perspective through globalization-influenced genres.

Balancing her roles as a musician and a key figure in Cairo's contemporary arts scene through Cocoon Cultural Centre, Ma-Beyn acknowledges the challenges. The collaborative nature of both roles allows for exploration in different creative areas, and Cocoon keeps her humble, focusing on community empowerment.

“I definitely feel closer to my truth as a Palestinian-Egyptian woman in an everlasting process of decolonization and appreciation for my Arab identity, heritage, and culture. Cocoon’s mission is to ‘nurture contemporary Arab talent to thrive in the global creative landscape’. When we defined our mission and started maturing as a business we also went through a process of solidifying Arabic as a main language for communication and we try to make sure Arabic is always used to deliver our messages.”

Expressing excitement about her upcoming performance at Sole DXB, Ma-Beyn reflects on the significance of the opportunity. "I’m very excited, this will be my biggest stage yet! It’s a bit crazy to think about. I’m proud of myself for coming this far because I worked hard. I’m most excited about meeting other creatives and the potential friendships and collaborations that I’m going to leave with."

As the founder of Cocoon Cultural Centre, Ma-Beyn discusses its evolution, emphasizing the encouragement of self-expression and creativity. Initiatives like "From Waste To Good Taste" make sustainability cool through art and design, aiming to impact socio-economic segments and age groups.

Ma-Beyn embraces inspiration from artists like Tyler The Creator, MF Doom, Mos Def, and Kendrick Lamar, acknowledging their influence on her exploration of identity, culture, and vulnerability through music.

With a vision to take her music across the Arab world and collaborate with diverse subcultures, Ma-Beyn aspires to create spaces where different Arab cultures meet sonically and linguistically. Her upcoming album, primarily in Arabic, will explore sounds native to the Arab world, promising a diverse palette of Arab sounds.

In facing challenges and criticism, Ma-Beyn remains open to experimentation, emphasizing, "The less I concern myself with people's validation, the more I have time to connect with the people relating to my music." Currently working on her first official album, Ma-Beyn invites listeners to stay tuned for a project that embraces Arab influences in rhythms, sounds, and samples.

”I hope that in a few years, ‘making it’ for Arab artists is defined by being in a community that is collaborative, being proud of their Arab identity and connecting with different people from different social, economic and cultural backgrounds.”