Friday, August 24, 2012

Iraqi Pop: Hatem al Iraqi

Hatem al Iraqi

Any guesses where Hatem al Iraqi comes from? 

Going into Baghdad from Amman in 1991 after the first Bush War took 14 hours by jeep across the desert.  For the first couple of hours we were allowed by the drivers to listen to our tapes of Nina Simone and Leo Kottke.  But the kindnesses ceased around midday. From then on it was Iraqi pop music that sounded very much like tonight’s selection.

Hatem has enjoyed a good career since the early 1990s and is popular across the Middle East. I picked up this album in the duty free shops at Dubai airport several years ago.

Don’t know anything more about him but this is straight ahead Arabic pop music which is always fun and lively.

            Track Listing:

            01 Ahdhoni Heyl
02 Rayih
03 Bil Salama
04 'Ala 'Enadak
05 Mashguleen El Bal
06 Kad Al Maqam
07 Marayid
08 Takhayal
09 Habibity
10 Ela Habibi
11 Mawal El Rooh
12 La Etsadik

1 comment:

Hammer said...

No prizes I guess? Well, he comes from Baghdad itself; the capital of what-was-once Iraq. Hatem was born at Al-Sadr city in Baghdad on 20/03/1969 in a large, poor family of six brothers and two sisters. His father Abbas Al-Ferawai worked as a driver, his mother a housewife as most Iraqi women in the past had no education whatsoever.
Hatem (also spelled as Hatim) was the eldest of his brothers and had to work to help his family. He started singing at elementary school, and went from there to sing at weddings. On one wedding in the late 80's, the manager of the wedding hall didn't know how to introduce Hatem to the guests, because he's forgotten his family name. So, instead he introduced him as 'Al-Iraqi': The Iraqi. And that nickname stuck ever since.
His younger brother is also a singer (Ali Al-Ferawi) and both of them sang in this sad, lacrimal style called 'bukaiyat' (tear-jerking songs famous in the southern Shiite parts that mourn those who were killed of the Prophet's grandsons and followers or 'Al Al-Bayt'). In addition to this, Hatem sang mawaweel: long harmonic improvisations of old poetry lines, usually publicly memorized by generations of Iraqi singers).
When Hatem started singing professionally, he was backed by Ustad Fath-Allah Ahmad, the Dean of Iraq's Institute for Music Studies and famous poet song-writer Kareem Al-Iraqi who most budding Iraqi pop singers sang using his words of sheer love and romanticism. Hatem himself was nicknamed 'Ameer Al-A'asheqeen', or The Prince of Lovers just for this.
But, alas: on later years (in and out of the late 90's) he went to sing schmaltzy pop songs (known as Tarta'ah: طرطعة) that are very popular now with erm, drug-addicts, deranged people, low-class ratfinks, etc. you name it.