top of page

Global Music Column – June

Ahmed Ben Ali – Subhana

From Maha’s 80s Egyptian orchestral pop to Fadoul’s 70s Moroccan psych-funk, independent label Habibi Funk has spent the best part of the last decade platforming fascinating, cross-cultural music from the Arab world. Their latest niche is Libyan reggae, a popular genre in the country since Bob Marley’s music arrived in the 70s and local acts honed their own takes on the sound. The label previously released 2021’s dub-laden single Tendme by Tripoli-born Ibrahim Hesnawi; their latest record, singer Ahmed Ben Ali’s Subhana, showcases the full breadth of the music’s ingenuity.

Ali draws on rhythmic similarities between Libyan folk and reggae’s offbeat, and its call-and-response vocal, and then uses synths to create his yearning melodies. Yarait and Subhana are the clearest examples of his fusion, replacing dub’s dilatory echoes with a slightly faster tempo, mirroring the bounce and pace of Libya’s zokra music, while adding a punchy combination of synth horns and clavinet bass: a funky and propulsive foundation that allows Ali’s melismatic vocal to soar.

Read the review in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 23/06/23]

Recent Posts

See All

DJ Znobia: Inventor Vol 1 In the late 90s, dancer Sebastião Lopes was experimenting with the production software FruityLoops in his hometown of Luanda, Angola. Wanting to create harder, faster music t

Deena Abdelwahed – Jbal Rrsas Since the release of her debut album Khonnar in 2018, Tunisian DJ and producer Deena Abdelwahed has been on a mission to recontextualise popular music from the Arab world

Every few years, there is a flurry of excitement as an artist is “rediscovered”. Old cassettes, records and master tapes are dusted off to produce slick reissues, sparking fresh reappraisal and length

bottom of page