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East Wing is proud to present this first exhibition showcasing Habibi Funk, a record label dedicated to re-releasing the evolution of a musical style that historically never had its own particular genre. The label, headed by Berlin based DJ, Jannis Stuertz is dedicated to describing a particular fusion of sounds and a catalog of artists that were created in cities geographically distant from one another in the Arab world. Although produced under very different circumstances, the artists are connected by their distinct musical compositions, which mix local and regional influences with other inspirations from outside their region.

Jannis finds many of Habibi Funk artists through continuous travels to the region – spending hours combing through crates of vinyl records, cassette tapes or long forgotten studio reels left in dusty backrooms, the overloaded storage areas of obscure independent music shops or private collections. Once found, his international team of friends and colleagues in Casablanca, Cairo, Paris and Khartoum share their research to uncover as much background context as possible for each release, including making every effort to contact the original artists, or families of these musicians. 

Habibi Funk encompasses more than pure funk, often the influences are inspired from Western popular music such as soul, pop and rock, but it’s more than that. Some of the releases can be described as Arabic zouk (a genre originating from the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe), Algerian coladera (a popular musical style from the Cape Verdean islands), Lebanese AOR or old school hip hop.
All of the styles go beyond just taking Western music as a blueprint and translating it with a local accent. Habibi Funk aims to bridge this gap, making accessible these obscure and sometimes forgotten musicians to a wider audience, connecting younger generations to their eclectic musical history. The label’s future aim is to create a public archive where this music can be enjoyed and studied by all.