Reupped by popular demand here.
This is, without question, my absolute favorite album of 2012. Yes, you heard me correctly. Super Leefa, the cover of which features what looks like a homeless guy in a tattered superhero costume, is my favorite album of the year.
And yet, owing to (a) my prior ignorance of Abu el Leef's up-to-the-moment sweepingly postmodern Egyptian pop and (b) the aforementioned CD cover, in all its sad, be-bearded homeless-looking-guy glory, I avoided picking up a
copy for months after first seeing it in the racks and shelves at the Nile Deli and Alfra on Steinway Street. I don't know what I thought it was. A comedy album? Some sort of Weird Al of Arabia?
No. It's actually a sha'bi record, with Regular Joe Cairo lyrics about how music isn't against Islam, how people like to get all up in your business, and how people living an honest an honorable life are often the first to get stepped on by everyone else. The music, though, is less sha'bi and pure, unadulterated, inventive pop--a range of it, from 70s US funk and disco to 60s popular Egyptian music to contemporary dance and house.
Born Nader Anwar Gaber in Alexandria in 1968, el Leef is a relatively late bloomer, having recorded his first album (which includes the hit single "King Kong") in 2010, when he was 42. His music divides audiences: in Egypt, you apparently love him or hate him.
You know where your bodega proprietor stands on the matter. Where stands you?