Thursday June 13th, 2024
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Karim Enzo & Rafiek Playfully Blend Genres in Latest Ep ‘3ala Ma Azon’

The rising rapper and producer come together to deliver a refreshingly energetic four-track EP.

Zaid Kreshan

Karim Enzo & Rafiek Playfully Blend Genres in Latest Ep ‘3ala Ma Azon’

With their complementary musical backgrounds, Giza-based producer Rafiek and Egyptian rapper Karim Enzo team up in the genre-bending EP ‘3ala Ma Azon’ under the independent Egyptian label Ra2smal.

As part of Ra2smal’s impressive roster, Karim Enzo has been rising up the ranks of the Egyptian rap scene as of late, while proving his talent and skill as a versatile songwriter and performer. In the past, Enzo has experimented with multiple music styles, delivering his attitude-filled performances over music that incorporates elements of Shaabi, drill, trap, and lo-fi, working with the likes of Marwan Moussa and Jaadu. Meanwhile, Rafiek has been a leading producer within the growing drill and trap movements, producing for some of the biggest names in the scene such as Moscow, Mo Asfora and Mad Bunny.

In this EP, Enzo and Rafiek take their sonic versatility to the next level, experimenting with mixing trap, drill, Shaabi, and synth-pop in a light and approachable style. The four-track EP also showcases each collaborator’s skills, featuring both impressive production chops on Rafiek’s part, and adaptable flows and lyricism from Karim Enzo.

The EP opens with the track ‘Bas Ya Boss’, where a Shaabi-inspired beat plays over a fired-up horn sample. As the track progresses, we are met with harmonically rich 808s, in a spacious section where Enzo’s gripping rap performance takes centre stage. Metallic Arabic percussions then come in, adding a danceable quality to Enzo’s light-hearted performance and Rafiek’s unusual production style. Featuring sporadic vocal chops, quirky melodies, and inventive sampling, Rafiek indulges his experimental tendencies in this track while Karim Enzo expresses his pride and confidence by comparing himself to a blooming flower, warning competing rappers to stay clear of his expansive path.

Briskly picking up the pace, ‘Fe 3eneky’ sees Rafiek looking to drill elements such as the track’s bassline and percussion pattern to deliver a more hyperactive instrumental. We are then met with a slowed-down sample of Mohamed Mounir’s ‘Fe 3eneky’ establishing the atmosphere, as it seems to have directly influenced Rafiek and Enzo. The track also features Arabic percussions and playful elements such as the bass melody and video game-like sound effects. Here, Karim Enzo’s lyrics address the topic of uncontrollably falling in love, as the rapper speaks on his out-of-character infatuation, as he states the lengths he is willing to go to express love and admiration. The track also contains a beat switch where we jump from a drill-inspired soundscape into a full-on trap banger as Rafiek channels a Madlib-like sampling mentality, making use of an accordion performance to top the hard-hitting instrumental.

In ‘Ameen’, the collaborators take a more outside-the-box approach, embracing glitchy drum sounds and experimental editing techniques. The track kicks off with deep sub-bass and a Shaabi-inspired rhythm, where electronic drum sounds bring the beat to life as Enzo experiments with different dialects mixing Egyptian, Levantine, and classical Arabic. While the ideas explored on this track are forward-thinking and original, ‘Ameen’ does not sound as developed as the rest of the EP, where the track tends to sound a bit repetitive at some points.

Ending the EP with style, ‘El Atr’ stands out as one of the most exciting tracks on the project, as we hear the collaborators blending melodic rap vocals with an upbeat synth-pop instrumental. ‘El Atr’, coming in at just under two minutes, features a groovy bassline, punchy drums, and hypnotising arpeggiators in its 80’s inspired soundscape. On this track Enzo’s lyrics touch upon his regrets and frustrations, recounting an experience in which he struggles to decipher mixed signals. The rapper also dwells over missed opportunities, painting a picture of his heartbreak and grief with his vivid lyrics speaking on his frequent insomnia, hinting that it has gone on to influence his lifestyle.

Listen to the full EP here: