Habibi

IBRAHIM HESNAWI - The Father of Libyan Reggae LP

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Hesnawi crafts restless grooves with evident buttressing from a reggae foundation. Highlighted across the LP is how Hesnawi essentially pioneered such an effortless synthesis between traditional Libyan music and Jamaican reggae stylings, plus the endlessly disparate funk, jazz, and disco accents which firmly situate Hesnawi in a league of his own.

In many countries, reggae was a widespread fad before its popularity gradually subsided. In Libya, however, the genre remained popular since its initial introduction in the late 1970s. Reggae’s thematic throughlines like references to Pan-Africanism, liberation, and the end of oppression and exploitation resonated—and continues to resonate—forcefully amongst a Libyan audience. To this day, you will find countless bands playing variations of the genre as are there Facebook groups with predominantly Libyan members sharing old and new reggae tracks with ten-thousands of members. And no matter who you ask, chances are high that the genre’s popularity in Libya will be largely attributed to one man: Ibrahim Hesnawi.

Born and raised in Tripolis, the capital of Libya, Hesnawi initially was not interested in music, however he credits Bob Marley as foundational to changing his life after having listened to his music in a electronics shop a friend of his was working at.

Reggae is instantly recognizable from the counterpoint between the bass and drum downbeat and the offbeat rhythm section