On the northeast shoulder of Africa, Egypt is the gateway between Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Its ancient civilization dates back over 6,000 years and has evolved to include both Christian and Islamic traditions.

At the turn of the 20th century, Britain forced Egypt into political submission and ruled it until the 1952 Revolution, when nationalist forces finally succeeded in wresting power away from the British. Since that era, Egypt has been ruled by powerful presidents who tend to remain in power for decades. The current president, Hosni Mubarak, has been in office since 1982, and has maintained a tight grip on the voting system, despite promises to reform the electoral system. The current administration has also been widely criticized for human rights abuses and suppression of civil liberties.

In the region, Egypt often plays the role of mediator between Israel and Arab neighbors, and is also a popular destination for African refugees fleeing civil war and genocide. Its capital, Cairo, is a major center for television, film and music production, broadcasting throughout the Arab world.

The first wave of Egyptian Hip Hop in the late 1990s failed to gain acceptance in broader Egyptian society, until the group MTM broke out in 2001 with the crossover hit “Omy Masafra”, opening up the field for others. Since then, a number of prominent Arab rap artists have come out of Egypt, including the Arabian KnightzWighit Nazar, MC Amin, and Omar Boflot, winner of the first season of “Hip Hopna“, MTV Arabia’s rap competition.

While record sales for even the most popular groups continue to lag way behind those of chaabi and other more mainstream Arabic music, Egyptian rap continues to have a strong influence throughout the Middle East, with more and more artists emerging onto the scene each year.

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