Those of you who visit my blog a bit more often will realize that this is a repost of a drop I did in April. But I just need to urge you all to peep this stuff if you haven’t already. A good half year after playing these two albums for the first time, I still haven’t recovered from how dope this crew is (or was, in that constellation.) And so I don’t repost this cos I don’t have anything else left, but to enlighten and inspire you. But I’ll save you the flowery description of how it’s made my life better and cut right to the chase. Trust me, you’ll like this too.

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If somebody told you there’s a relatively unknown MC who spits the kind of multi-syllable rhymes that could give Big Daddy Kane a headache and make Big Pun sink to his knees, an MC who drops knowledge like the late Edward Said and all that on top of rich, melodic beats crafted from samples and sounds that span the Middle East, Europe and America, and then you’d ask me who this crew is…?

The Euphrates from Montreal, Canada consist of Narcy (aka The Narcicyst, Jamal Abdul or Abdul Narcel), and the producer duo Nofy Fannan and Habilis aka Sandhill Productions. The latter two are actual brothers and all three are of Iraqi origin but grew up in The United Arab Emirates before they moved to Canada with their families at a young age.

The first album they dropped in 2003, A Bend in the River, was very heavily influenced by the 9/11 debate on Islam, The Arab world, so-called terror and so-called justice, the war on Iraq and the whole load of other crap that ensued and hasn’t stopped since. Being Iraqis and feeling that something was going mighty wrong, the three created an impressive album that was top-of-the-line both lyrically and musically. The music is so rich and wonderfully arranged, while Narcy’s sometimes sarcastic, sometimes frustrated, sometimes outright silly and wonderfully poetic raps make you wonder how one person can make so much sense and wrap it all into hellishly dope rhyme schemes.

One year later, Euphrates already followed up this spectacular album with another one entitled Stereotypes Incorporated. As they themselves say, one that had more of a coherent concept behind it, but basically just more of the same genius. It’s really the mind-blowing combination of what you might call “conscious” lyrics and battle-type emceeing. Even when Narcy’s not waxing political, he’s subverting the whole dominant blabber about Arabs and the Middle East, and vice versa.

Tragically, shortly before Stereotypes dropped in autumn 2004, Nofy Fannan was hit by a speeding taxi and fell into a coma. He later succumbed to his injuries and died.

The last thing I’ve heard of the group is that Narcy aka Narcicyst is hard at work on his new album due out around the end of this year [edit: as of March 09, we’re still waiting, dagnabbit.] It’s going to be entitled “Illuminarcy”, and production’s going to be handled by Sandhill i.e. Habilis on the boards, along with others. But Euphrates as a group name will forever remain that of the trio which no longer exists. Narcy will be publishing his work as Narcy, Narcicyst, or as part of the Nomadic Massive, which includes The Philistines and The N.O.M.A.D.S.

Get your hands on these as long as you still can. Your ears will thank you…

[Update 2013: Habilis aka SandhiLL has made the tracks of both Euphrates albums freely available on his Soundcloud page. Which spares me the work and bad conscience for leaking them to you.]

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Euphrates – A Bend in the River (2003)

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Euphrates – Stereotypes Incorporated (2004)

Further Links:

9@home interviews The Narcicyst

all my Narcy and Euphrates-related posts on here

Illuminarcy

Euphrates.ca

Narcy.net

Nomads website

Articles and interviews:

Article in HipHopCanada (shortly after Nofy’s accident).
Includes a track-by-track rundown by Narcy and Habilis

Awesome interview w/ Euphrates on Shakomako.net

Great article on Euphrates in Montreal Mirror

Dope audio interview with Euphrates on Davey D’s Breakdown FM
(+ a bunch of their tracks played) For download or streaming.

Salaam, 9@home