Mohamed Ramadan has done it again.
After dropping a teaser on Instagram, the Egyptian actor and rapper released another trademark music video full of flamboyance that will surely be a regional hit.
An insanely catchy ode to the pandemic, Corona Virus is as much a public safety message as it is a showcase of the popular Egyptian Mahraganat genre, which continues to cause headaches among cultural officials at home.
Directed by Mohamed Sami, the music video begins with Ramadan waking up to the sounds of an English news report stating the health measures being taken by governments in the wake of the virus spreading worldwide.
Electro synth riffs then kick in and Ramadan springs out of bed to adorn a face mask that matches his gilded spectacles, in addition to bejewelled gloves.
The video, which is rendered with a purple hue throughout, then frequently switches between residential and outdoor scenes.
In the former, he is showing his son how to disinfect his room, as well as practicing social distancing when meeting a couple of relatives. In one instance, a loved one gets a little too close for comfort and Ramadan pushes him back after unsheathing a sword from his cane.
That attention to safety was somehow lost, however, when it comes to the scenes showing a robed and grinning Ramadan dancing with a troupe of women in a palatial bathroom.
The lyrics are both funny and useful
In line with Ramadan's style, the rapped and sung lyrics – written by El Power El Aali and Bldozer – are full of vibrant Egyptian colloquiums and scatting.
The chorus, teeming with snappy couplets, also references Ramadan's recently screened drama series El Prince. "I am the prince, I am the gentleman," it begins. "A mask I wear and gloves as well. I say hello from afar and with no hugs. Coronavirus – that way I am safe."
Ramadan ensures the track’s catchy appeal through the frequent refrains: “rona-rona-rona-virus”.
Meanwhile, the verses urge us to be responsible. “Take care of yourself, my friend. Say, ‘I am looking after my family and home’. Coronavirus is officially here, it is my enemy. I will keep it away from me before it enters my body.”
Granted, when translated, the lyrics sound rather dry. But, delivered with attitude and in Egyptian slang, the advice sounds cool and should hopefully catch on with Ramadan’s youthful fans.
Mahraganat is like the koshari of music
Produced by El Power El Aali, Corona Virus epitomises Mahraganat music. Similar to one of Egypt's national dishes, koshari, it is a colourful mix of regional and western styles.
There is the thumping percussion and call-and-response lyrics that are hallmarks of Shaabi music. There is the rapping and cocksure attitude of hip-hop, as well as hefty lashings of electro and club-ready beats.
With nearly a million views in the first few hours of its release on YouTube, Corona Virus marks another step in Mahraganat's controversial ascendancy to the Egyptian mainstream.
With artists presently banned from performing Mahraganat concerts in the country because of some of its eyebrow-raising subject matter, Ramadan's star appeal, acceptable lyrics and zany videos should ensure the genre's appeal will endure online.