Hip-hop has come a long way since its disco roots in the 70s. It’s also come far in Egypt since the late nineties – when Fadi Tawfik, aka DJ Feedo, begun his journey. Back then, hip-hop was something of a spectacle to an Egypt that was under the spell of the Spice Girls and Celine Dion (remember them?).
Some twenty years later, Feedo is The Man when it comes to hip-hop – a connoisseur, if you will. One of his biggest stages over the years has come to be at Cairo Jazz Club, where his midweek antics and doses of hip-hop have become mainstays of CJC’s schedule.
We sat down with The Man ahead of the latest edition of Say Whaaat?! on Wednesday 8 March, for a little chinwag about the local music scene, being a DJ in Egypt in the 90s and life outside of hip-hop.
-You’re back at CJC on the 8th for Say Whaaat?! and you’ve become a favourite there over the years – what makes it such a special venue?
The first time I ever performed at CJC was in 2003 – I love the place and the energy. The management is very helpful and professional and that makes me perform at my best there.
-Back when you first started, it was hard to get Egyptians to buy into hip-hop on the nightlife scene – has this changed?
Yes, of course it’s different now. Hip-hop music now is leading every chart and the music has become very popular and commercial – I make sure that I play songs that the crowd is familiar with.
-Why do you think there aren’t more rappers and hip-hop producers emerging locally, then?
Hip-hop is not only music, it’s a lifestyle! Unfortunately, some local rappers have misunderstood the idea and are copying international rappers in a wrong way! Back then, MTM started it in the Middle East, then actor Ahmed Mekky released some amazing songs; also, I listen to Asfalt and Abyusef.
-What other types of music do you listen to?
Being a part of a radio station (Nile FM) made me appreciate and listen to everything. I like house too, but maybe not pure khabt. I also like jazz, blues and rock and I enjoy so much retro music and ‘boogie’.
-You play a mix of new stuff and classics – but if you had to choose to stick to one, what would it be?
I play the whole thing together; you can’t take one or the other! If you listen to most of my mash-ups and remixes, I mix both together and take the best out of both the new and the classics.
-How has the craft of the DJ changed in Egypt since the late 90s when you first emerged?
It’s completely different. Back then, people used to see us as a joke. Now things are much easier especially with new technology and equipment making it is very easy to be a DJ. But it’s still tough to be a unique DJ.
-If you weren’t a DJ, where do you think life would have taken you?
I started playing on my dad’s piano when I was 4 years old, so my family knew I was so into music – they just didn’t know which direction it was going to be! In school I played drums. I used to write songs and sing – some of the songs are on YouTube! So it was always all about music and I think I made the right choice.
-Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
Haha yes, I make sure that I sleep good the night before and eat three hours before the gig. Also, I try not to answer any calls or involve myself in any problems that day to be in a good mood to work.
-This one’s a toughie – what’s the best hip-hop album of all time?
That’s a really tough one to pick – Doggy Style by Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and J Cole’s Cole World. But also, Ready to Die by Biggie Smalls, 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me, Tical by Method Man, 36 Chambers by Wu Tang Clan – even the Marshall Mathers LP – there are a few…
Feedo is set to return to Cairo Jazz Club on Wednesday 8 March. For more information and reservations, call 01068804764.