Ramy Essam is best known for his heady performances in Tahrir Square during the 18 days of the January 25 Revolution. His song, "Irhal!" ("Leave!"), encouraged the mass street protests against Hosni Mubarak's 30-year dictatorship: "We are all united, we demand one thing: Leave! Leave! Leave!"
"Irhal" became internationally known through You Tube, and is referred to as the anthem of the revolution. In 2011, the song was selected by Time Out as the third most world-changing song of all time. Not long after becoming a revolutionary icon, Ramy Essam was grabbed off the street and brutally tortured by Egyptian security services and has been harassed routinely by the government ever since. Despite that he continued songwriting and became Egypt`s best known underground artist. His music amalgamates genres like Singer-Songwriter, Rock and Rap and combines them with traditional arabian influences. His lyrics often push the boundaries of the socially acceptable.
For his role during the Egyptian uprising he received the Freemuse (Freedom of Musical Expression) award and was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary The Square and the German documentary Artwar. Essam had been prevented from leaving the country by both the Morsi and Sisi governments, and increasingly prevented from performing live or appearing in any state-, private-controlled or allied media in Egypt. In October 2014, Essam became the first musical artist taking part in the "safe cities" visiting artists-in-residence program, from the Swedish city of Malmö, where he will reside the next two years, using the time to study, record, and tour globally while continuing his activism on behalf of Egyptian democracy and human rights.
The Arabian Knightz feat. MC Amin - "Its not just Hip Hop, its a movement"
The Arabian Knightz gained notoriety following the release of their single "Rebel" featuring Laurin Hill the day internet was restored in Egypt. Rapping in both Arabic and English, the Knightz’s message was clear:
“Eyes wide as I see the violence / while you slumber, poverty and hunger break the silence / while the screams of a mother left childless / echo like sirens as the media denies it / masses just buy it ‘cause they keep us all frightened / Rebel!”
DUBCNN states in an article that "Arabian Knightz have been considered the Public Enemy or NWA of Egypt. The group has always adapted an authentic Arab perspective to the Western-dominated art, mixing English and Arabic raps with traditional story-telling methods that blend history, politics, religion and social commentary. 2012 AK released their debut LP, “Uknighted State of Arabia," after multiple censorship delays. AK intended to release the album in 2008 but because of the rappers’ dangerously combative lyrics and sociopolitical commentary, the album had no chance of being released under the restraints of the Hosni Mubarak regime. During the 25 January revolution, AK released a single from their unreleased album titled “Prisoner,” featuring Palestinian singer and MC Shadia Mansour. The song in itself is a form of protest, which can be heard through the chant-like hook, “I want my country free from oppression, free from injustice, free from evil/I want my land and the land of the Arabs.” Egyptian hip-hop has become a key weapon against the current regime's propaganda.