Habibi Funk’s latest offering is from Libyan artist Ahmed Ben Ali, who serves up his own stunning take on one of Libya’s favourite sounds – reggae!
Recorded in 2008, the record provides a fascinating insight into the Libyan reggae scene, which emerged in the 1970s and developed it’s own unique sound that infused traditional folk rhythms with elements of reggae.
As Ben Ali points out “The Libyan folkloric rhythm is very similar to the reggae rhythm. So if Libyan people listen to reggae it’s easy for them to relate because it sounds familiar. This is the main reason why reggae became so popular here. […] We played the reggae Libyan style, it’s not the same as in Jamaica. We added our oriental notes to it and if you mix both it becomes something great.” The track “Sibhana” perfectly encapsulates this, since it is a song whose lyrics are loosely based on the poem „سبحان اللي هنتك وهونتيني“ by the Libyan poet AbdelKader Bouhedma.
Ben Ali’s story is all the more remarkable when one considers that despite making music for most of his life, it was always “just a hobby” and that he only began recording his compositions in 2003 in his home. His music rose to prominence when it was uploaded to Youtube by a friend of his in 2008. Although Ben Ali & his friend promptly forgot the password for the account, the tracks posted on it gained significant traction and were eventually viewed by Habibi Funk head honcho Jannis Stürtz.