What does it take to make a righteous noise in the midst of a political firestorm? It's been hard enough following the shifting tides of leadership in Egypt in the wake of the 2011 revolution that swept the country up in the regional Arab Spring movement. Now imagine being a musician trying to make your way through that chaos and booking gigs, finding a practice space and communicating with fans while keeping the pressure on new leaders who have failed to deliver on their promises.
That's the scenario in "Egypt: Bittersweet Revolution," one of the most intense episodes from season one of MTV's "Rebel Music" series, which explored the challenges faced by Egyptian rockers and MCs as they tried to balance their musical and political lives during their country's difficult transition to democracy.
Check out an encore presentation of the half-hour special on MTV's YouTube page and make sure you tune in for the season two premiere on April 30, when "Music" takes you on a journey to Turkey for another untold story of fearless young artists rising up against social and political barriers to forge a better future.
"Rebel Music" is like no other series out there, a rare, unprecedented chance for young Americans to get a look at the lives of their counterparts in conflict zones.
"Nothing in the country was working properly at the beginning, now nothing is working at all," says Egyptian rapper Karim Adel Eissa, a member of the popular hip-hip group Arabian Knightz in one of the most gripping season one journeys to Egypt. In a place where electricity is spotty and speaking out can result in police detention and beatings, like young people around the world, these Egyptian musicians write songs about their frustrations and impatience with the powers that be.
Their sounds are different, but their goals are the same: to give voice to the effort to overthrow democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi. And, proving that the loudest sound can help make change, their voices were heard and Morsi was ousted in the summer of 2013.
"We really do need a leader to lead this revolution one day," says rocker Ramy Essam following the Morsi coup. "If such a leader doesn't appear, I'll do all I can if I'm fit for such responsibility.”
Re-live their stories as a warm-up for the launch of season two, which will explore the lives of musicians in Iran, Myanmar, Turkey, Venezuela, Senegal and the Native American communities of North America.