Dareen Is the Rising Rapper on a Quest To Put Egypt on the Map

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In an increasingly polarized world, few spaces remain where two people can converge at peace and in safety, with the exception of rap and hip-hop, where diverse backgrounds find common ground through artistic expression and shared musical experiences. It’s true, not many other pockets of music embrace inclusivity more, and as the genre continues on its path of seducing an increasing number of first-time-listeners— regardless of gender, ethnicity, or social status— a greater number of fans are now turning into performers themselves. This transformation from passive participants to active actors is adamantly driving change in each country’s respective scene, including Egypt. 

Since the second half of the 2010s, the Land of the Pharaohs has turned into one of the region’s hotbeds for all things hip-hop. With hits being produced on a daily basis and talents found at almost every street corner, it’s easy to get lost in what is happening in the North African nation, especially given the rapid pace at which the Egyptian rap scene is evolving. But, of the rich pool of lyricists, our attention was drawn to Dareen, a 21-year-old MC whose verses are more than just words but a vivid portrayal of emotions and experiences intricately woven into the fabric of her own vernacular. 

In an arena where authenticity reigns supreme, and where males dominate the spotlight, the Alexandria native emerges as a noticeable figure who gathers attention while redefining narratives with the help of her unapologetic artistry and unwavering presence and perseverance. As she steadily rises through the industry’s ranks, we sat down with one of the region’s next up-and-comers to shoot the breeze. Introducing Dareen:

In a few words, tell us who you are. 

My name is Dareen, I’m a 21-year-old rapper, and I have been rapping since 2017. 

Why did you start rapping?

I started dabbling in music and rap because it gave me a platform to voice my emotions and thoughts in the way that I wanted to. That space was something I really needed growing up as it provided me with self-confidence. 

Why did you feel the need to be heard?

I’d say that I was inspired by watching other rappers, I wanted to be a part of that, I wanted to be like them. 

What’s your relationship with other MCs now that you are one yourself? 

Our relationship is really good and there’s always been support from one another. Special mention to L5VAV, Shahin, and Wegz— these people were extremely supportive of my career and believed in me back in the day. 

How did you all meet?

We all used to work in the same studio. Me, L5VAV, Shahin, Wegz, and a lot of other rappers from the underground scene as well. We all went to the same studio, at (co-founder of recording studio, Vinyl Studios) Nader Soliman’s. I met him at a workshop in 2017, and his studio is where I recorded my first-ever song. 

All of you have now moved to Cairo by the looks of it. Was that necessary? 

The thing with Cairo is that there’s variety, whereas in Alexandria we do not have that many studios, and the few we do have aren’t as professionally qualified. I’d say that 90% of them are home studios and even the only studio that was professional, which was Nader’s, moved to Cairo recently. So I feel that Cairo has a space to actually work and turn whatever you do into a business. It’s the capital, you know?

I hope to one day see a scene of its own thrive in Alexandria, but I feel like most rappers have now left.. It’s like talent starts from there and then decides to move out, which is not only the case with artists from Alexandria, as it includes people from other governorates as well. 

Do you see yourself to be a catalyst and lead the wave of change in that sense?

Maybe yes, maybe no, but I feel that it’d be very difficult.  It’s a fact, that there are way more opportunities (in Cairo) to actually work. There is so much variety in people, studios, party places, advertisement and marketing companies, and media production that it seems impossible to think of moving anywhere else in Egypt to do what I do. Or at least, if there is change, it won’t be anytime soon. 

How can you explain there being so much talent in Alexandria? 

I guess it’s in the nature. It’s the sea and the smallness of the city that makes it easier for talented individuals to rise and not get lost in the crowd. In Cairo, there are so many talented people, but it is a huge city, so you can’t find out what everybody is about, up to, or thinks, which is not the case I reckon in Alexandria. Back when I used to live there, I remember feeling like I was making real art, songs used to come from my guts almost effortlessly, whereas now that I’m in Cairo, I feel like I need to dig deeper to find these emotions. 

But I do want to emphasize how helpful the Mediterranean Sea can be. What does it for me is sitting in a calm spot, right in front of it and just feeling close to it. That exercise alone helps me organize my ideas, get inspired, and push me to bring out more of what I feel, of the talent I know I have. 

It sure seems like it has been steering you in the right direction. How is it going musically so far?

It’s been going well. I only released singles because, in the past two years, I felt that I needed to work on myself more from the performance and the marketing side of things. My community has gotten bigger. I’m not being listened to by only 10 or 20 people now on SoundCloud. I make music for bigger crowds now, so I need to be more professional and that’s what I spent my time doing recently. 

I feel like I am not ready enough, or the audience isn’t ready enough, to let an entire set of songs free, and that’s also because I’m still shaping my style, my aesthetic, and sound. I am still exploring my voice. The idea of an entire EP that isn’t perfect for me is a no-go, so I decided to release a couple of singles here and there to try different beats, some of which are outside of my comfort zone like Afrobeat and RnB. 

I just want to dive deeper into exploring my sonic identity for the time being. For example, I recently noticed that I no longer rap like I used to and have been experimenting with more melody. So much of my current unreleased material is singing, so until I figure out what I want my approach to music to be like, I’ll be in no rush to release anything substantial. 

It feels like the right thing to do right now until I feel like I can put out all I want to say properly while being musically solid. I want to do things right, and as of now, releasing singles feels like practice. And as they say, practice makes perfect, and hopefully that will be my case.

How would you describe your own music at this stage? 

I’d describe it as the sound of the youth, as I feel that my music is a representation of just that. It reflects the stages I go through, and I am sure that there are millions out there who are going through or have gone through similar struggles that I am now. The only difference is that I don’t shy away from writing bars about them.

I also think that rapping on Mahraganat beats helps represent where I’m from and who I do this for. It’s truly an Egyptian sound, and when it is heard abroad, you automatically associate it with Egypt. Its rhythm and energy carry the essence of the streets, its stories, and the vibrant culture that shaped me. It’s a way of paying a very unique homage, and I really appreciate that. 

What’s your ultimate goal in the long run? 

I want to put Egypt on the map. because Egypt deserves that. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I am putting pressure on myself, but I think that my voice in the near future will be more popular and I just want to make sure that whatever I put out is on point. That’s why I do not rush putting out songs because I want it to represent Egyptian culture and female rappers to the best of my capabilities.  



Photo Credits:
Photographer: Mahmoud Ahmed (@mahmoudaphotography)
Creative Director & Stylist: Maria Fathy (@mariainthelayout)
MakeUp Artist: Samia Carina (@samia.carina)
Hair: Dafayer (@dafayer)
Artist Manager: Ahmed Abd ElRassol (@ahmedabdelrasol)
Fit by EmergencyRoom Beirut (@emergencyroombeirut)
Eyewear: Versace/ VNTG Eyewear (@vntg.eyewear)  

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