This is about the Palestine and Israeli Arabic Hip Hop music. It is also , in a time of semi-war and the Vinograd commission report on the second Lebanese war, how hip hop music express the beat of feelings, anger and frustrations of Arabic youths in the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip.
There are many Hip Hop sources on the Internet, but seeking a Palestinian point of reference I found “Melkweg‘ a dutch site advertising the show (03/02/2008) “Palestine: Sonic Resistance, John Kameel Farah, Checkpoint 303, Ramallah Underground” ( the West Bank).
I chose to quote from…”Ramallah Underground (RU) is a hip hop band of three Palestinian youths (the West Bank), Boikutt , Aswatt and Stormtrap, who chose the microphone over Molotov cocktails. They find hope and positivity from the detritus of despair and spread it around through their music.”….”People around the world have the impression that there is no internet or telephones in Palestine, but the truth is we have everything here.”….”Aswatt, 24…..We talk about social issues in our songs. But in addition to that we try to give our people hope. What we voice represents a lot of people in the Arab world who don’t have a voice.”…..”We chose Arabic because it is our language. There is an attack on our culture so we made it a point to use Arabic. Not choosing English was a conscious decision.”….”However, we also make sure we make quality music so people can enjoy it even though they may not follow the lyrics.”…see more.
Boikutt and Aswatt.
The Israeli Arabic Hip Hop band “Dam” (Israel) take part in a documentary film at the” Palestinian hip-hop doc premieres at Sundance” ((AFP). Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008) I quote,…” The Palestinian hip-hop group DAM [Mahmoud Jreri, Tamer Nafar, Suhell Nafarw] .. has spawned a cult following and a small army of imitators, stars in a new film about the underground music scene in the Middle East, which premiered on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. “Slingshot Hip Hop,” by director Jackie Salloum, offers a peek into contemporary life in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”…see more.
Quoting from an interview:
..”Q: Are you getting any Israeli support?
Jrere: Israel now is right-wing so it’s always the minority that supports you. No one plays us on the radio, we don’t have television… we don’t have people who support art or artists. The album that you saw took us five years to complete.
Q: Have the CDs been selling well?
Tamer: It’s not just the first Palestinian hip-hop album; it’s the first Palestinian album in all ways. It’s been selling in America and Europe but we are having terrible problems getting it to the Arabic world and the Israeli market because to the Israelis we are Arabs, and to the rest of the Arab world we are Israelis. So we’re caught in the middle.”..see more.
The …”Members of DAM (which means immortal in Arabic, blood in Hebrew, and stands for Da Arabian MCs in Brooklyn-English) might officially be considered “Arabic citizens of Israel,” since they come from the town Lud about ten miles from Tel Aviv, but they strongly identify as Palestinian. In one song they initiated a call and response with the audience, repeating the lyrics, “DAM jayeem/Min falestin” (DAM is coming/We are from Palestine). They also performed their hit “Meen Er Habi” (Who’s the Terrorist) while the majority of the audience sang along.”…see more.
…”Our city, Lod, is considered the biggest drug market in the Middle East. You can get everything here – including weed and cocaine,” says Tamer Nafer, lead rapper of the group”….
…”Despite not having a formal recording contract, DAM’s 2001 single “Meen Erhabe? – Who’s the Terrorist? – was downloaded more than a million times from their website. The group has also delivered their message outside Israel and the Palestinian territories on four European tours.”,,,
…”DAM’s single “Born Here” is in Hebrew and they are hoping they can bring the Palestinian message to an Israeli audience. “Arabs already know how they live – we have to educate Israelis on what’s going on.”…see more.
Seeking for a representative rapper from the Gaza Strip I found Mohammed Alfarra and learned by the same token on the difficulties of those musicians to perform their music.
I quote…” Mohammed Alfarra is a rapper from Gaza who at the Sundance Film Festival is promoting “Slingshot Hip Hop,” a documentary about Palestinian musicians…”He did not expect to perform alone on stage Monday but officials in Gaza detained his band mates and prohibited them from traveling to Park City. ‘They are stuck in Gaza. They couldn’t go out because all the borders were closed,’ Alfarra said in an interview”…” Even Robert Redford and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote letters asking that officials allow the musicians to attend the festival”…see more.
A further quote …”Al-Farra released his first solo album, Ana Jeet (I have arrived) in 2006. It’s a reflection of everyday life in Gaza Strip like living under military occupation, issues within the Arab society, Love, and Argele (Hookah). He’s one of the main artists featured in the documentary Slingshot Hip Hop which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.”….see more.
A last word on Hip Hop, Palestinians youths in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, (I quote)..”can listen to a one-and-a-half minute song on their mobile phones slamming both Fatah and Hamas. The producer of the song refused to reveal his identity for fear of both movements.The new song uses rap music, it demands Palestinian leaders to either solve their problems or leave the Palestinian people alone.’Either you solve it or leave us… Government and presidency have aroused the fire of dispute… Oh Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian people are suffering from the civil war.’The song derides the Palestinian rival parties and says that their dispute revolved around power rather than Palestinian interests.” …see more.
As an afterthought, it seems to me that the Arabic Hi Hop scene is different from the western Hip Hop scene in that the Hip Hop performing format (song,words, dance, gesticulation,) made it possible for the Arabic performers to express their real feelings about the ongoing human crisis between Israel Palestine and now between the Hamas and the Fatah, without falling into an uncontrolled aggressiveness. So, more people will like their songs in Israel and outside Israel. There a few commentators seeing in their shows a disguised propaganda agenda, but this is the usual rhetoric on everything. Anyway “propaganda” through music is better than trough violence… they have the talent.