‘Shigella’ is Perrie El Hariri’s Powerful “Intro” Into the Egyptian Rap Scene & Our Fav ‘Salmonella’ Response

By: Fadila

Having a relatively viral moment right now is the song Shigella, the best and by far the most savage response to Tameem Youness’ Salmonella so far. Just yesterday, Zeina Amr and I were saying this trend needed to die, but then we listened to Perrie’s version and well, I’ve been playing it on repeat since it came out last night. Obviously, I wouldn’t waste time on bullshit so I DMed Perrie and next thing you know, the 22 year old is offering to answer all my questions about the Egyptian rap scene, feminism, and how Shigella came to be. Honestly? The journey for this song has been ridiculously epic and full of already well known names in the music industry, not to mention, Perrie’s answers were all so on point I want to print and frame them lol. 

First though, let me tell you a little bit about Perrie. She graduated from Lycee Francias Maadi a few years back, went to AUC for a year before she took off to the UK. She went to Leicester and graduated with a BA in sound engineering and performance. Do I need to tell you she’s a scorpio? I’ve never seen a more obvious one, tbh. Perrie actually comes from a musical background, you see, she’s only half-Egyptian, her mother is a Moroccan singer and performer. Her mom used to take her to the studio (which Perrie admits to having hated), who would’ve thought, years later, Perrie herself would take her mother’s place in the studio – ma3 ekhtelaf el genre w el style tab3an. Oh, and her dad just so happens to be actor Omar El Hariri. If you ask Perrie about what she can’t live without, she’ll say music and writing, and no, she can’t choose between them. 

How did the idea for Shigella come to you? 

“Let’s just rewind on how Shigella came about. So, basically as soon as Tameem released the song, I watched it and didn’t pay attention because it’s just another Tameem thing, but when many people shared, I actually watched it. I was so shocked, both due to the lyrics and the absence of women in the video, what shocked me more enno fel credits, the team mafeehoosh setat, it was all done by men. Maybe that was a choice, maybe it wasn’t and it just came about like this. That’s none of my business though. I ended up posting a Facebook status saying how I wish I could do a song just to respond. Two days later, I forgot about it, then a couple of days later a common friend between me and the production house [DashCall Productions], called me and was like, ‘they’re thinking of doing something so why don’t you guys meet up and just see if it clicks?’ So, I went and it was like, yes, khalas, we’re doing it. I didn’t even think about it, well, I did but I didn’t allow myself to awy because I didn’t want worry to get the best of me.” 

Why did you do Shigella? 

“I decided to do Shigella because I was pissed off, going with Tameem’s narrative and putting into context the ‘character’ being played, I just didn’t agree with what the character had to say. I think the song is amazing {Salmonella}, the way he delivered the message was not the best way, in my humble opinion. I thought about being very polite, which I somewhat was, but I wanted to respond through the same way he did his song. There was a group of three females who responded, but it didn’t fit with how I thought women should respond to it, it just wasn’t done the way I wanted it to. I decided to take matters into my own hands.” 

Do you think using the same track adds to the trend tameem sets or fights against it

“It had to catch the attention fel awwel so I did it the same way as Tameem, to show it was a response. The first half wasn’t really me, more of a character, because I never would’ve said what the lyrics say, you know? It was just very, cute. Baadein I didn’t want to lose my essence and identity, this is why the rap bit came. Also, because I’m trying to build a career out of rap, and I know some people will be with me and some people will be against me, but I needed to build that, for it to pop.” 

What’s the message behind Shigella? 

“The message behind Shigella is basically, matkhalleesh ragel yehaddedek, 2ooly la2 3ady, consent is always the key. Hatta law haddedek enno he’s going to ruin your reputation, which is like 90% of Egyptian men, go with it, say no. Haye3mellek eh yaani? Matgeesh 3ala nafsek 3ashan haga.” 

Why is it important that as a woman you control your narrative?

“Honestly, there’s a deficit of female rappers in the Middle East. Felukah has been doing it, I rep for her, I love her, mad respect for her. It’s important as a woman to control your narrative. It always comes back to us as fingers are being pointed at us, and I feel like when you control your own narrative, no one can use it against you. I’m not saying you need to justify yourself, but you need to always speak your mind and don’t be afraid of the patriarchy or misogyny, because this is always gonna be around. So, it’s a question of whether or not you allow it to affect you or the women around you, or you fight against it.” 

Why haven’t you been rapping araby? 

“It took me 6 years to release my first English track. It’s a matter of crafting your profession rather than just putting everything out. I prefer to work on my things and my rhymes and my delivery more than just releasing tracks that aren’t good enough for me to listen to. I’m going to start rapping in Arabic, I’m probably releasing a freestyle on my Instagram soon on my friend’s song, because I’m more known bel freestyles beta3ty. I’m going to mix Arabic and English.” 

On Pablo: “Pablo is a huge inspiration to me. Not because he’s male, but he’s been doing it longer and the music he does is very respectable and the closest to what I listen to when it comes to US rap. He’s giving me Travis Scott Vibes. Scott is my idol, as well as Beyonce. Not only Pablo, howwa w Molotof (best producer on the scene in my opinion) w Wegz w Slyver w Felukah w nas taniya ketir nesethom. Our scene is very bright, and has a nourishing future.”

How is your song any different? 

“This song is different because it doesn’t scratch the surface, it doesn’t sugarcoat things, it’s very straightforward, kinda a don’t mess with me track. It’s a representation of women, a representation of all the women who didn’t agree with what Tameem said, and I hope I made everyone happy with my tr, elly howwa taffeit el nar elly gowwaky. All the negative comments I’ve seen so far are from men and that makes me so happy, because that means my message has been delivered so well, waga3et their ego, which is good.”

Who worked on the project?

“DashCall Production, Mohammed Eissa directed the video, Seif Abdelraouf was the director of photographer, Sohaila Eissa wrote the lyrics. Slyver and I sat with her to perfect the rap part and to be honest, men gherha makonnash hane3raf newassal el message as straightforward as it was. Slyver is already a friend and he stayed with us throughout the whole thing. Click – who is a producer that worked with Marwan Pablo, Wegz, and Abyusif – 3amal el production alongisde Islam Cheetos. The two men in the video – which i love dearly – are Abdelrahman Eissa and Abdullah Shaker, Marwa and Rouny were the two girls. Abdelrahman Moussa, who without, we wouldn’t have survived on set, because he always made everyone laugh. Seif Sherbeeny bardo kan mosa3ed entag as well as Sherif Doweidar. There’s also Hady Galal, who was also a producer, he did the set up – props, lights, everything. Howwa begad kollena etmarmatna, w el donia kanet sa23a, w a3adna till 4 AM, w lamma rohna saggelna we stayed till 6 AM, la it was such a naturally flowing team work, we were so dedicated, and we didn’t care. Kudos to Eissa and Seif, they spent so much money and time on this.”

That’s it. Which sounds like this was easy, but obviously, it wasn’t. Personally, I’ve got the lyrics down to a T, I’ve sent the YouTube link to all my amazing feminist friends, we’ve laughed, screamed out the words, and truly felt both represented and empowered. Again, Tameem Youness is a genius, but I love Perrie’s version so much more – for being more authentic, more representative of women, and much more straightforward, empowering, and just plain savage. This track is everything and I legitimately cannot wait for all the fire and savageness Perrie is about to bring to the table (read: the scene). 

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