Monday February 26th, 2024
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Wegz Creates Official Track of ‘Captains of Za'atari’ Documentary

In perhaps his most endearing song yet, Wegz’ ‘B3oda Ya Balady’ is dedicated to the underprivileged fighting for a better life.

Nadine El Roubi

Getting straight to the point: Egyptian superstar Wegz has just released a song for Egyptian director Ali El Arabi’s 2020 documentary film. ‘Captains of Za'atari’ is based on two young male Syrian refugees trapped in Camp Za'atari of Jordan, with dreams of becoming famous football players. This article could be a usual buzz about a good song - ‘Superstar Artist Makes Banger Hit’. So what?

The significance of this move for Wegz as an artist, however, goes much deeper than another million-plus-view video for the Egyptian songwriter. Rising from humble beginnings to now rap/pop stardom, Wegz’ track ‘B3oda Ya Balady’ demonstrates the artist’s intent to give back, and acknowledge those who come from struggle.

It goes without saying that, unfortunately, too many are dealt a bad hand in life, becoming reluctant survivors of situations beyond their control. Oftentimes this is a result of the powers that be – political powers, if we want to get specific. Colonialism, xenophobia, and racism still run rampant even in a world where knowledge lies quietly at our fingertips, waiting to be found. Despite this, most of the world remains ignorant – some out of choice, some out of the mind-boggling phenomenon of being ignorant of their ignorance.

That being said, educating the masses on the stark realities of politics and the effects it has on various races, nationalities, and ethnicities is no easy task. ‘Education’ as we know it today is, in and of itself, a construct designed by the very powers that have crumbled entire countries as we know it. Curriculums are made to contribute to the erasure of entire cultures and histories. The media we consume is controlled and created by these powers, propagating various harmful agendas; hiding the truth.

How, then, can we come to understand the true realities of those living lives we know nothing about – other than what we are told by Western media?

The answer is art, by artists who have either lived these realities or are close enough to them to do them justice. This is where Ali El Arabi comes in.

Egyptian by birth, El Arabi first made his foray into the filmmaking world in 2009. Afterwards, he travelled to Germany to study filmmaking and production and began his career at German-owned ZDF channel[1] where he made a number of documentaries on war zones in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kurdistan. His first feature documentary film is the 2021 ‘Captains of Za'atari’ follows the story of Syrian refugees Mahmoud and Fawzi dreaming of football stardom (trailer below).

The film was nominated for 15 awards and screened in 82 international film festivals, with its premiere being held at the critically acclaimed Sundance Film Festival. The film also had its Arab world premiere at the fifth edition of Gouna Film Festival, in Egypt, fittingly, where it won the El Gouna Golden Star for Best Documentary Film.

Now, buzz around the film is making a comeback with a song from Wegz himself. Wegz’ involvement is significant because of how he relates to the story. He surely saw himself in the young boys who have dreams bigger than the cities they grew up in. In the track, which sees Wegz mix both English and Arabic (perhaps to cater to the film’s international audience), the artist floats smoothly over an afro-pop beat.

The video features clips from the documentary itself, as well as clips of the film’s team winning awards for the movie. These are intercut with Wegz performing in a production studio. The lyrics are what make this song so potent – “As much as the world has given me, as much as it has taken away/Creating a vacuum, he feels lost, something is gone” – before going into a more hopeful hook. “Habibi we balling, mashAllah/Fakers keep falling, mashAllah/Working like a slave brother, playing too hard/Looking as fresh as Mo Salah”.

Wegz’ charm in ‘B3oda Ya Balady’ is his profound ability to juxtapose the struggle of a refugee’s existence alongside their hope for a better future. Not only this, but the constant football references placed in the context of real life success that anyone can relate to is what demonstrates the artist’s songwriting genius. Wegz’ tonality is perfect for the song, deep with emotion but also lighthearted enough to convey joy, love, laughter, and inspiration.

All in all, Ali El Arabi could not have chosen a better artist to write and perform the official song for his moving film. Wegz artistry is moreover all the more impressive with this choice of project.

Watch the full video below, and scroll down for credits to the people who made it happen.

Music Production: Rahal Recorded

Mixed and Mastered by: Nader Soliman (Vinyl Studios)

Wegz Management: Asem Tag (TMtm)