Sunday, March 26, 2006

Aljazeera: "US rappers sing for Palestine"

The next big thing at Pacifica radio?
They rap about checkpoints, military oppression and refugee camps. Their songs express longing for Jerusalem and anger at the hardships of life in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

But they grew up in Tennessee or Virginia, live in Los Angeles and perform in New York City.

Far away from the their parents' homeland in the Middle East, Arab-American rappers are trying to find their own voice in the United States - expressing the frustrations of the Muslim world at a time when anti-Islamic feelings are on the rise following the September 11 attacks.
Way to go, Zionist consipracy!
Their neophyte movement is spurred on by the success that rap and hip-hop have in voicing the grievances and reflecting the lives of other minorities in the US.

Two of the Arab-American rappers, Umar Offendum and Ragtop of Los Angeles, are on the forefront of this small but growing trend in hip-hop music.

"Hip-hop has always been trying to voice resistance in the face of oppression," said Omar Offendum, the performance alias of 24-year-old Omar Chakaki. "And if you're growing up Arab, politics are very important because they affect every level of your life in many different ways."

"There's definitely a feeling of solidarity with other minorities, like African-Americans, and not just when it comes to the music," added Ragtop, 25, whose real name is Nizar Wattad. "Palestinians in Israel and the territories are also second-class citizens."
Can we look forward to songs about violence against Jews in France?
Clapping and singing, the crowd enthusiastically applauded the hip-hop performances of Wattad and Chakaki.

The two artists rapped in English and Arabic, combining electronic samples of popular and classical Arabic music from their parents' generation with fast hip-hop drum beats.

"I place my palms to the east where my people seek peace, and freedom from police control, checkpoints and patrols," Wattad and Chakaki rhymed in the song "Free the P" which stands for "Free the Palestinians." "Domination from another nation; we used to be brothers like Cain; now they got us living under occupation."
The good old days of the Damascus blood-libel?
While many of their songs focus on the plight of Palestinians, Wattad and Chakaki also rap about their own experiences as Arabs, and Arab-Americans, in a post-September 11 world where suspicion of Muslims runs high.

"After 9/11, I got stripped-searched on 17 flights in a row," said Wattad, offering an example of what he perceives as growing discrimination against Arabs in the US. Despite their anger about incidents like this, the two rappers reject violence as a solution for conflicts.
It is very bad form to engage in violent retaliation over incidents that earned you frequent-flyer miles.

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