Combining Satire and Music: al-Rahel al-Kabir (The Great Departed)

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Lebanon has always been a complicated country, its political and social background is unique and unmatched in the Arab world, and Beirut was always a place in which different artists and musicians experimented with their progressive independent musical compositions. The underground scene got a new addition to the Beiruti music landscape and they are called al-Rahel al-Kabir (The Great Departed)

Gaining more popularity after their emergence in Summer 2013 in Beirut, the Lebanese Band The Great Departed (Al-Rahel al-Kabir) are according to their Facebook Status from January 17, 2016 recording their first Album.

If their previous songs are any indication about what their first Album will sound like it will be a mix of classical Arabic music with a modern sound touching on political and social issues concerning Lebanon and other countries.

Between political instability and civil wars in Syria and Lebanon  Al-Rahel al-Kabir was established by Khaled Soubeih, Sandy Chamoun, Naim al-Asmar, Emad Hashishu, Abd Qabisi and Ali al-Hawt. Khaled Soubeih, who was a journalist before joining the cultural scene in Lebanon covered the war in Syria and its influence on Lebanon. He is a son of an Egyptian teacher and a Lebanese government employee. He makes use of his background while composing songs.

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Most of the members are familiar with classical arabic music and this is what is reflected in their music. Their lyrics are not difficult to understand and every one is able to sing along. Most of their lyrics are satirical and criticize the current political and social circumstances surrounding Lebanon and the Arab world. Their song Madad Baghdadi ,mocks the leader of the Islamic State. The reaction of the audience are evident in their laughs and rhythmic clapping to the song. This song is one of their most popular songs on youtube and it has been translated into English and French. The French subtitles were added after the bombings in Paris on November 13, 2015. On Facebook they wrote:

Bonjour Paris, de notre region qui sombre sous le terrorisme des Dictatures, et le terrorisme des extremistes.

Khaled Soubeih, the frontman of The Great Departed explains his frustation about the situation and says that Lebanon is not stable and has not been stable since the 1990s but for him and the members of the band music is one of the best ways to express what they want. He explains it in this way

The band performs modern songs about our current reality and expresses what we are going through as though it were a comedy

Especially their song Madad Baghdadi is a prime example of their musical and lyrical development.

Oh master Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, you, who rule by God’s rules,” the group sings in the mock ode, “you will lead God’s servants to an abyss like no other.”

And because Islam is merciful, we shall butcher and hand out meat. And because we need to reduce traffic, we will blow up human beings.

Naim al-Asmar, a member of this band explains what they wanted to express with this song

Those who consider that Baghdadi represents Islam could be offended, but the song doesn’t criticize Islam, it actually criticizes the conception of Islam that Baghdadi and his group has

They are widley covered in the local and international press and are already described as the “voice of a new generation” in the hope for a time where there is no war and no religious conflicts.

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