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Rapper Shouly releases debut solo album ‘The Empty Quarter’

November 26, 2020
The title also works as a metaphor for Shouly — having just turned 25, he’s completed the first quarter of his life.
The title also works as a metaphor for Shouly — having just turned 25, he’s completed the first quarter of his life.

DUBAI — With millions of streams, sold-out shows across Jordan and Chicago, and high-profile collaborations with Al Basha, Synaptik, El Far3i, Illiam, Emsallam, and more to his name, Shouly is already one of the scene’s most talented artists.

But his debut solo album is set to propel him much further into the music industry.

The Empty Quarter

The Empty Quarter is a sprawling desert covering Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

And as the name implies, the album is inspired by the desert’s themes of struggle, isolation and alienation. At its core, the album presents the Arab world as a complex, in-depth, and fully realized experience.

It is designed to educate and inspire and challenge the lazy idea of the Arab experience in the West, specifically America, where Shouly has resided for six years now. Ultimately, Shouly wants to “give agency to Arabs to represent themselves, defy stereotypes and explore the intricacies of our existence.”

And thanks to his upbringing, Shouly is perfectly placed to make those calls.

The 25-year old Palestinian/Jordanian rapper is now based in Chicago and tackles those hard-hitting themes from a thrilling young Arab immigrant perspective. The album is shot-full with honesty and vulnerability, creating a deep and complex album that really resonates. The title also works as a metaphor for Shouly — having just turned 25, he’s completed the first quarter of his life.

And the result when Shouly’s big themes and lyrics are paired with Ibn Itaka’s raw production that time-travels through eras is brilliant.

As such, it’s full of energy and ambition, of struggle and understanding and a wide range of musical themes spanning African, Middle Eastern and Caribbean influences.

Singles

The first single “Taboor” tackled oppression, race and solidarity. And it did so with clever wordplay and razor-sharp lyrics laid over a head-snapping Arabic hip hop backbeat. The second single “Wanakaman” was the perfect counterweight.

Where “Taboor” was sharp and taut, Shouly turned inward to find peace and happiness on “Wanakaman”, realizing that compassion and care are the keys to happiness.

Where some albums suffer from too many collaborations diluting the music, “The Empty Quarter” only features a handful of select guest appearances including huge Middle East rapper Emsallam and Z The People from Shamstep electronic group 47 Soul. — Agencies


November 26, 2020
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