I’m sure a lot of you, dear friends, saw the horrifying blast which occurred in Beirut, Lebanon a few days ago. Well over a hundred were killed in the blast, and countless more have been maimed. Our friends at Habibi Funk offer up this compilation of amazing Lebanese artists, with all proceeds going to the Lebanese Red Cross, who are in dire need of both funds and blood donations at this time.
We pray for the souls of those lost in the blast, and we also thank those good people contributing materially.
From Habibi Funk’s Bandcamp site:
We at Habibi Funk have been shocked and saddened by the explosion in Beirut 3 days ago. It was important for us to express our solidarity so we reached out to the network of musicians we have adored in the last few years to put together a release. 100% of the profits will go the the Lebanese Red Cross. All tracks from this compilation come from artists from Beirut, some of them don’t live there anymore but the city was essential for their musical career. Although the process of compiling this release was super rushed in order to help in raising funds as quickly as possible, we truly love how it turned out to be musically.
Rogér Fakhr who contributed 2 tracks was a stable of Beiruts 1970s scene of musicians. He played in Fairouz’s band and while his music might not be remembered outside of an informed circle, we have rarely come across a musician whose outstanding talent has been cherished more by his fellow artists. Whenever his name becomes part of a conversation among the scene of old musicians in Beirut, you hear nothing but adoration for his musical abilities and song-writing.
Ferkat Al Ard is one of our favorite bands ever at Habibi Funk. It was founded by Issam Hajali (whose first solo album we re-released), Toufic Farroukh and Elie Saba. They recorded three albums in which they effortlessly combined jazz, folk, at times Brazilian music, poetry and a political attitude into a unique web of musical beauty. „هجاء“ is the title track from their third and final album.
Toufic Farroukh is not only a founding member of Ferkat Al Ard, but also renowned solo artist. He left Beirut for Paris where he carved his own lane bringing together the musical influences of his homeland with jazz, recording 8 solo albums since 1996. “Villes invisibles“ feels at the same time melancholic and hopeful.
Munir Khauli stems from the same clique of musicians as the aforementioned artists. He also played with renown artists such as Ziad Rahbani and Fairouz, simultaneously releasing solo material. His track “Heik ha Nishtghil?“, recorded in the mid 1980s, had a viral resurgence on social media after people realized that his description of the issues of Beirut have not changed much over the decades and many of his lines from 35 years ago still resonate as adequate today:
“My, oh my, what a Lebanon.
Garbage on the streets, airport closed down, car thefts thriving,
“Is this how we’re gonna work?”
Roadblocks and militias, racial kidnapping, guns and Kalashnikovs,
“Man, is this how we’re gonna work?”
Jobs are scarce, some folks clothed, some barefoot, the dollar rate is rising,
“Where is this leading?”
Violence and ferocity, senators and (parliamentary) seats, massacres and tragedies,
“Is this how we’re gonna work?”
Bombs and explosions, booze and drugs, poverty and downtroddenness,
“What a situation.“
Abboud Saadi is one of the key musicians both behind Samir & Abboud and Force. Both bands were active during the 1980s when similar groups of musicians, including Ziad Rahbani who played on the recordings of both bands, would gather in different bands dedicated to very different musical sounds. „Stand Up“ deals with Beirut during the civil war and the loneliness, the permeant state of conflict brought upon its citizens.
Even before the explosion 3 days ago the situation in Lebanon was dire: Since October 2019 Lebanon’s currency lost 80% of its value, with most people not even being able to access whatever is left of their life savings due to banks’ limits on monthly withdrawal. The costs of basic goods have inflated over 50% for the third month in a row. And while the inflation level would be dramatic for every country, it’s catastrophic for a country like Lebanon, whose economy and public services rely heavily on imports. If all of this was not bad enough, the lockdown associated with the Corona virus reinforced the downwards spiral even more. As a result 65% of the country’s population has slipped into poverty, and starvation is a major threat. A report by Save The Children summarized that “50% of Lebanese, 63% of Palestinians and 75% of Syrians were worried they would not have enough to eat.”
Shout out to Beirut Groove Collective, Chico Records, Sole DXB, Raphaelle Macaron and all artists involved.