The most discerning ears in town and the driving force behind some of Cairo’s most electrifying hip-hop tracks, Lil Baba (Instagram) is a producer who knows a thing or two about crafting beats that pack a punch. The seasoned producer, renowned for his unmatched production work with Egypt’s ‘Mexic’ Crew, made up of heavyweights Abyusif, Abo El Anwar, Perrie, Ahmed Santa, and Desso, is the literal beating pulse of Cairo’s rap scene. With an ear for melody, a deft touch behind the boards and an instinct for collaboration, at just 24, Lil Baba has been instrumental in the collective’s game-changing bars and trendsetting force.
For this week’s Yung Selects, Lil Baba has curated a playlist of ten tracks that spotlight some of the freshest sounds emanating from Cairo’s burgeoning rap scene, drawing from his extensive repertoire of hip-hop, trap, drill and experimental beats. “All the artists I chose are people I believe can find the new in anything,” remarks Lil Baba. “When putting together this playlist, I chose my go-to tracks for when I’m vibing or looking for a boost of motivation or inspiration.” From old-school hip-hop to drill, trap to Jersey club beats, his selection spans the full spectrum of the genre, showcasing the diversity and originality that’s put Lil Baba at the forefront of Egypt’s music scene.
As a seasoned music producer, Lil Baba has always had an instinct for melody and loves experimenting and collaborating regardless of the genre’s confines. Although he has now cemented himself as one of the region’s foremost hip-hop producers, he actually started out producing electronic dance music (EDM) under the alias ‘Estrike’. “I enjoyed experimenting with different genres including Brazilian bass and dubstep,” he says. He even had a random track on Soundcloud called ‘Yabnel Weskha’ that went viral years later, and nobody knew that ‘Estrike’ was actually ‘Lil Baba’. However, his passion for hip-hop led him to focus on producing for the emerging Cairo rap scene, where he has become one of the most recognizable names and is behind myriad hits.
His beats are raw, gritty, and unapologetic, perfectly embodying the energy and passion of the young Egyptian artists he collaborates with on the daily. But Lil Baba doesn’t limit himself to just one style of hip-hop – he’s equally at home with drill, afro-beats, and even vintage samples. This eclectic approach is evident in tracks like “Debana” by Desso, which features Lil Baba’s production and a playful mix of musical influences.
Lil Baba’s production skills don’t just stop at beats – he’s also a talented vocalist in his own right, lending his smooth and velvety voice to tracks like ‘DDLLMMA’ and ‘La La La’. The latter stands out as a highlight on his latest album, where Lil Baba’s vintage sample selection and Afro-beat-inspired rhythms blend seamlessly with his laid-back flow. He shows off his production chops with ‘Elrap Ghayarni’, a track that shows off his ability to craft old-school bangers that are guaranteed to get heads nodding.
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