|Felukah (Pic by fotometro__)|
First time I heard "Felukah" was on a record that was produced by "Prodby77" who is an Egyptian producer based in Malaysia - I was so impressed and I remember feeling also proud. She has a very unique vibe and there was something about her that made me believe in her & also show love and support.
I reached out for an interview, I sent in 17 questions!!! I really appreciate the time she gave me & Re-Volt, this is how the convo went, Show Love & Show support and get to know this incredible artist
BIG HASS: I gotta start with your name "Felukah", I know that your mom helped come up with it, tell us that story and since we talking family. How does your family feel about you doing music/hip-hop?
Felukah: I was sitting with my mom in our balcony back in Cairo bouncing stage names back and forth when she thought up Felukah. We were looking for a word in Arabic that would be easily pronounced in the West—the philosophy around the name unfolded organically after that.
Just like a felucca that’s sailing along the river, I want to embody an ebb and flow in my verse. Artistically and psychologically, I choose to stay open and explore where the wind takes me… it’s a very peaceful paradigm that I write in.
Even if the emotion I’m grappling with is unkind or unpretty, the paradigm itself is rooted in authenticity and nature.
My family sees the depth in what I do and have come to support my music career. I also work a lot with my older brother who co-produces and mixes my music; my sister helps manage me. We’re floating a very homegrown boat.
BIG HASS: I love your poetry voice if that makes sense. You have a unique way of expressing words. You are from Egypt, but moved to the USA in 2017. I really am interested to know, If you didn't move there, would you be able to still pursue music in Egypt?
Felukah: Language is my first love. It was my high school English teacher who introduced me to the power of poetry; it damn near unlocks pockets of your consciousness. I’ve been consistently writing poetry since the 9th grade, partially because of her. Only when I moved to New York City did that poetry evolve into rap music. I was around a lot of hip hop and was discovering my own sense of self in the freedom of a city with close to zero judgement. What’s mad cool is going back to Egypt and placing myself in the scene there, with the same identity and material that I’ve built in NY.
BIG HASS: Your track "Purple Philosophy" released in 2018, is one of my personal fav, love the references and the words, flow you used... can you take us through the process of you writing that and what is the sort of feedback you been getting on this specific song?
Felukah: That’s crazy that your favorite track is off my first project! I don’t pride myself too much on the material in Battery Acid, I was just familiarizing myself with the idea of writing to record. “Purple Philosophy” does stand out to me however, it’s the first track I ever put out. I still work within the same framework; purple philosophy like I’mma be deepest shade of blue and still get loud as f*** I never wanted to be cool. It’s essentially the idea of welcoming highs and lows as part of a greater rhythm. I also shoutout Faten Hamama and Fairuz, who are two very important women in history. I got good feedback on the song when I dropped it on Soundcloud and that pushed me to keep creating.
BIG HASS: Correct me if Im wrong, you do have 1 EP + 2 Albums, How do you see you have evolved from 2018 till now?
Felukah: I consider Citadel my first album and fully conceptualized project. I started getting closer to my sound in the Yansoon EP but hadn’t yet unlocked any signature flows or motifs. The most exciting thing about making music for me is the process and evolution of it all. To have grown through the manifestation of a feeling or an idea - that’s the trippiest, most beautiful thing.
BIG HASS: Like i said, i love your story telling approach, I also respect and love the fact that you don't wana assign a certain genre to your music. How did that come about?
Felukah: Because you're right, people tend to always put artists or even other people in a "BOX" and Label them, so being Label-Free is something I am totally with, how did you reach that conclusion? As a poet (and also as an air sign), I guess I see an openness and fluidity to things. We wake up every day and enter systems that perpetuate singularity and a digestibility of sorts, so we end up trapping ourselves under labels. Artists I admire like Solange, Noname, and Tyler, the Creator toy with genre just enough to keep their sounds fresh while maintaining the same essence. I believe in hip hop, I embody neo-soul and my mind works like jazz. Nurturing these different musical callings is essential to me.
|Felukah (Pic by Fotometro)|
BIG HASS: Name some of the artists you are currently listening to/getting inspiration from?
Felukah: I’ve been spinning a lot of Tierra Whack and Joey Bada$$, while also taking inspiration from regional artists like Shabjdeed, DAM, and Egypt’s own Abyusif.
My pallet changes on an almost weekly basis, but constants like Common and Erykah Badu can be found in almost every playlist I make.
BIG HASS: We have an amazing Arabic Rap scene, but at the same time, there is a HUGE lack of women representation. What are your thoughts on that? and maybe even discuss why do you think it is the case? Is it traditions/culture? Is it that Hip-Hop is not really understood in Arabia...? Thoughts..
Felukah: Yes there is a severe lack of female energy in the Arabic rap game right now, but that’s destined to change. It may have been seen as taboo or risqué to be a female rapper at some point but embedded in our culture is storytelling and folklore. If you look at it that way, we were born with material for the mic. I think having more women in the industry in Egypt and surrounding Arab countries will definitely enhance our collective sound emanating to the rest of the world.
BIG HASS: When you get on the mic in live events/open mics and you say you're from Egypt. How does the crowd usually react if they found out? and what has been the most amazing feedback you ever got?
Felukah: People in the audience usually go through three phases of shock when the news first hits that I’m from Egypt. First it’s the fantasy built around the land, then it’s the fact that I’m rapping in English, then it’s the realization that I’m actually switching between English and Arabic. I like to keep people on their toes and I plan to incorporate more languages in the future. Someone once told me they’re learning Arabic on Duolingo to be able to understand my lyrics. That took me to the moon in my feels.
BIG HASS: In terms of collaborations, what's your latest collabos, future ones, who do you wana collaborate with? Love that collabo with "Prodby77", maybe tell us how did that come about?
Felukah: Most recently I was featured on Dena Anu$ka’s track “Caught in the Moment,” and am currently working on a record with Mvrs and another with Timmy the Nomad. Dig all their sounds a lot. I also have crazy material with rapper/producer Tuyme that we haven’t pushed yet. And that collab with 77 and Mo Sella was fire. Heard the beat and I fell right into it. “Kemia” was the only way to describe that feeling, having chemistry with the beat, and we ended up using that as the title. Dream collabs include Little Simz and Sampa the Great.
BIG HASS: Your latest Album "Citadel" is incredible. Been listening to it! and Im so proud of you! How long did the album take to finalize? Your track "Ask The Birds In Cairo" Ft MC BolBol is super dope as well. love the collabo, love the English/Arabic, love the theme... + Tell us about the themes you discuss in this album?
Felukah: Thank you! I started working on the album in December 2019 and decided to release it in July; many told me to take more time and get better mixing/mastering done. While I do agree that the project could still use some fine-tuning and potential remastering, it marked my evolution at that point and opened doors to multiple collaborations thereafter. Producers got a sense of what I was going for and now we can make moves in a far more intentional and grassroots fashion. As hinted at in the track “Ask the Birds in Cairo,” the entire concept behind Citadel rests on a notion of growing, building and taking true flight. The intro to the tape is a literal blueprint that introduces different themes of general elevation that the rest of the tracks highlight. Women’s empowerment, cultural representation and a lowkey profound silliness are themes I value deeply and definitely focused on in the album.
BIG HASS: What would you say is the most "Underrated" song you ever did? (A song that you personally thought it would do better, but it didnt)?
Felukah: Honestly “Whereto From Here” is my most underrated song. Verse is so fast and the beat is mad groovy, shoutout Rageh for hooking me up. I like my faster flows that incorporate lazy hazy hooks and I hope people catch onto that pattern soon.
BIG HASS: Who are some of your favorite Arabic Female Musicians at the moment?
Felukah: A lot of female talent on the rise. Dena Anu$ka just put out a wavy EP called Honey and Cream. Lella Fadda, Kilma and Peri are all about to launch. I’ve been blessed to perpetually find myself around divine, creative female energy. I can’t wait to work with each of them and inspire more women to hit the studio.
BIG HASS:The fusion in your music is natural. One can see that, what has been the most challenging thing you have faced artistically?
Felukah: I do like fusing languages, genres and concepts in my work. It actually hasn’t been challenging from a production standpoint; I think and feel in this way so I’m just staying true to my process. The difficulty might be in how people receive the material.. But I don’t make music for streams or followers. I drop bars and then see where they circulate.
BIG HASS: Are you getting support from Egyptian Media? If so, please shout them out because we want to highlight them too
Felukah: It’s cool to see independent production companies raising the heat in Egypt. I worked with DROOGS on the visual for “Ask the Birds in Cairo” and sat with them for a dope interview session afterwards. More recently I collaborated with Vybz to create this next project. They’ve also been the coolest team -- very hard working.
BIG HASS: What are you currently working on? Would love to see you in Dubai very soon performing maybe for THE BEAT DXB!!!?
Felukah: 2020 starts this month for me. My first trap song “The Daughter” comes out on Monday (10th Feb'20) alongside a music video directed by the brilliant Seif Omar. I’m also cooking up an EP and outlining a collection of vignettes/short fiction for a book. I want to keep my place in literature in the written word. Books and records for the win. I’m trying to come through to Dubai mad soon!
BIG HASS: Before I let you go, I need you to tell of few names we need to check in the Cairo Music Scene. Who you into? And If people can take ONE THING only from your music, what would it be?
Felukah:Definitely peep Wegz and Molotof. We also have a scene for progressive rock, led by the band Sublunary. Kilma has an experimental sound and is definitely one to check out. If there’s one thing I want people to take from my music it’s the beauty of lyricism. I want to be remembered as a thinker and a poet. Nas reacts never calmy on a hype track - but we might. I’m getting spiritual on trap beats and switching flows while staying lo-fi. I’m learning the universe through verse of my own and I’m psyched to have people on this journey with me.
BIG HASS: Any Last words, Any Shout Outs, Please Go!
Felukah: Shoutout to all the women artists in the MENA region who are searching for a reason to release their music, share their visual art or pursue their creative passions. Believe in your seat at this table. The world is listening.
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