There’s been a lot of hype and expectancy surrounding the release of Insan (Human) by Hamza Namira for quite some time now. This is Namira’s debut album with Awakening Productions; the same label that boasts Sami Yusuf and Maher Zain on their books.
Namira has always possessed a sophisticated and artistic hold on his music, and the sixteen tracks on Insan pay testament to the originality and care taken with every song; whether that be in the instrumentalism or lyrics. This is helped by the high production values, which serve to make the album an outstanding release.
The theme of the album is by no means ambiguous, as Namira is very forthcoming with his lyrics; each song has a personal touch. There are no clichéd romantic sentiments present in the songs and the album as a whole deals more with social and humanitarian issues in an array of ways; it’s poignant, humorous and always meaningful.
Namira starts the album with the title track ‘Insan’, a strong opening where he doesn’t hold back. For those who might not be familiar with his work, the track will immediately pull you into his passionate vocals. ‘El Midan’ (The Square) refers to the January 25th revolution, and the opening melodic piano and violin breaks into a high-spirited song as Namira proclaims ‘Lift your head up high/You’re Egyptian’. ‘El Taghriba 2’ (Estrangement 2) is a traditional oriental song that talks of the solitude and isolation of emigration. The song is still hopeful, though; as Namira insists that he will one day return.
Much has been said of the sectarian conflict in Egypt, but ‘Ebn El Watan’ (Nation’s Son) takes a refreshingly frank and untainted approach to the subject. Although he does touch on a small hope that the differences can be bridged, the song remains sombrely realistic.
‘Balady Ya Balady’ (My Country, My Country), is one of the lighter songs on the album, and leans more to Egyptian folk music as Namira sings about different parts of Egypt. ‘Ya Hanah’ takes a comical approach to criticism of the ever decreasing standards of education in Egypt.
The lyrics of ‘El Wushoosh’ (The Faces) again take a light approach to a serious issue; this time it’s the rampant hypocrisy and two-facedness of present in Egyptian culture. What is apparent in all of Namira’s songs is his sincerity and belief in his words; this, of course, makes the messages carried in his songs that much more affective.
While this is from top-to-bottom an album of traditional Egyptian pop music, the reliance on Egyptian stringed instruments is complimented by a range of different musical styling. The album was worked on and recorded in Turkey, and the influences of this can be seen in songs such as ‘Insan’ and ‘Ya Hanah’. There are also some very apparent rock-inspired sounds on ‘El Midan’, ‘Ew’edoony’ (Promise Me) and ‘Sot’ (Sound), which also include some electronic touches.
Other standout tracks include jazz number ‘Doori’ (Turn) and ‘Hansa’ (I’ll Forget), which borrows from the funk, disco and dance genres.
Insan has shown Namira to be an artist who pays attention to details, and is meticulous with his work. This has translated into a refined and earnest sound that we believe could propel the artist into stardom.