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Laylit to DJ Habibibeats: Arab Music’s New Revolution Takes on the DMV 

posted on: May 8, 2024

By: Malak Hassouna / Arab America Contributing Writer 

Arabs take great pride in their culture, from food to music. Our music is unique because of its intricate rhythms and melodies and usage of traditional instruments such as the oud, tabla, qanun, and nay. It also stresses improvisation and vocal performance and is distinguished by using coloraturas, quarter tones, and complex melodies. Even music that combines French, English, and Arabic always keeps the beat in the back with Arab instruments as it creates a draw. You will tap your feet from Ahmed Saad to Umm Khalathum and get the shakes. There has been a new movement around the world bringing the old and new together from sets like Boiler Room, Laylit, and DJ Habibibeats. Let’s dive into all the things that bring the vibes today. 

First, let’s start with Laylit and recap their visit to DC on April 27, 2024. To start, what is Layliy? They are a group dedicated to promoting music and artists from the Arab/SWANA region and its communities worldwide. Their parties mix traditional Arabic and modern electronic music, creating a unique and popular nightlife experience. They are known for their inclusive and welcoming atmosphere, celebrating people of all backgrounds. Each party takes you on a genre-spanning trip, showcasing the region’s remarkable musical diversity, depth, and complexity. Laylit’s electronic sound combines shaabi, dabke, mahraganat, Arabic pop, and hip-hop with modern dance music (techno, breakbeat, hyperpop) inspired by underground clubs in New York and Montreal. Laylit, featured in several media such as the New York Times and Pitchfork, is preparing to commemorate its 5th anniversary with a Boiler Room event in New York City and a tour of other North American locations. The lineup in DC included artists locally and internationally from Hiba Salameh, Boshoco, Arianna Danae, and Fady D. The night was incredible, filled with many remixes.

I was fortunate to see the 71st Laylit held at Culture DC. The vibes were immaculate, with remixes I had never heard before and moments of solidarity recognizing Palestine like Damni Falestena and displaying the Palestinian flag for most of the sets. The night was filled with laughs, dancing circles, new and old friends, and an all-inclusive and safe space. The belly dancing circles went hard, especially when Baldi music came on.  The hips were moving. I also loved the diversity of the music, from the Levant to North African beats, from Mahragant to the classics, and even some Bollywood beats.  It was an unforgettable night in the DMV. 

Some of these artists were from the Syrian Boiler Room. Boiler Room is a music platform that has held music sessions in several Arab cities, including Cairo, Beirut, Dubai, Marrakech, and Ramallah. DICE developed the platform in 2010 and has hosted sessions in approximately 100 places worldwide. Boiler Room events are often invitation-only, with limited tickets available for fans.

The infamous DJ Habibeats (Ibrahim Abu-Ali) is coming to Virginia in two weekends. The Palestinian American Los Angeles -based DJ, producer, and creator has been DJing for over 12 years. He has held residencies at nightclubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco and has over 1 million followers on Instagram and TikTok for his DJ content, mashups, and music sample series. He is about to hit the DMV as part of his tour, and we could not be more excited. His unique sound led to the creation of Habibi’s House, a party that celebrates worldwide music with Arab, African, Brazilian, Caribbean, Indian, and Latin influences. While this will be my first time seeing him live, I can not lie; I am addicted to his Soundcloud and especially the activist that he is. Not only does he support the Palestinian cause, but he is also committed to connecting the Arab Diaspora through collaborations and shoutouts with Saliah. I am so excited about what this generation of music is giving us and the connection of our heritage. It is truly inspiring to see the East being brought to the West. It has helped many embrace and remember our culture.

So there you have it, Habibi! Laylit’s DC throwdown was a fire testament to the movement blurring lines between tradition and innovation in Arab music. With Laylit setting the stage for your DMV arrival, expect nothing less than a night where you do not stop dancing, cultures connect, and the spirit of Habibi’s House thrives. Get ready to rep your heritage, discover new sounds, and celebrate the power of music that unites us all. Watch out for the upcoming dates I heard they are coming soon.

Check out Arab America’s blog here!