slingshot hiphop

Just saw this movie from the Boston Palestine Film Festival called SlingShot HipHop, its a documentary on the emerging Palestinian rap movement.

This should be prefaced by the fact that me and timmy have been in an ongoing debate of the effectiveness for Music as a means to bring about change. I have been of the opinion that it doesn't really do much; that even though the music talks about revolution, social improvement, it hasn't really accomplished anything in terms of getting their listeners off their feet and doing something constructive. My limited scope of music genres and history backed up my beliefs.

Tim pointed out to me actually right before we saw slingshot that Bob Marley's music really mobilized and above all united the poor masses of Jamaica. Was this what i was looking for? I wanted to see an organized, centralized resistance movement courtesy of, or have a large role by music and musicians. so in that regard i was up on the fence about Marley and the Jamaican example.

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this is hip hop and we're a nation... - KRS One

the walls in the overstuffed room were lined up with pac, marley, and che. on the shelves you'd find a mixup of snoop dogg and edward said, dmx and mahmoud darwish, eminem and malcolm x.

30% music

30% literature

40% reality

This was Arab Rap.

DAM the trio from Lyd, Israel an urban ghetto one compared to Chicago, were informed by both leading intellectuals as much as they were with the kings of hip hop.

They had lineups on their faces, gel in their hair, wore silver chains, but no tats. They lived and got along with their families; their parents encouraged them, the neighborhood kids loved them. and for what? They were rapping, first in english then eventually Arabic. No cursing but full of biting rhetoric and emotional anger, these boys were releasing their rage over living caged in society, no social mobility, no economic prosperity, no education, no freedom.

because they lack education and the ability to find work, kids in Lyd resort to pushing drugs, and just stagnate. These guys got into hip hop and use it as a sharply honed weapon, to vent their frustration constructively and artistically; providing a sense of unity amongst the millions of displaced Palestinian youths both in the Palestinian territories and inside Israel.

This is where music as a movement thrives, this is the example you were looking for Tim.

The rap movement in Palestine is divided by areas. Those in the '48 are the ones who live in Israel proper, those in Gaza are the refugees/prisoners from the '67 war, the same for the ones in the West Bank.

PR the trio from Gaza, because of their real status as refugees/prisoners are the voices that everyone in the movement pays mind to. They are the ones who's neighborhoods are bombed constantly and like a young Ibrahim said, the Israelis give you 5 or 6 seconds of notice to withdraw, then just like that its gone.

There's also a rising female movement, Abeer a talented R&B rapper represents not just the struggle of Palestinians against Israel but more so women against a male dominated worldview, one that flows in the Arab world, preventing women like Abeer to come out freely and express her art as freely as her male counterparts.

What makes these rappers similar to the American movement, is the dress, the flow, and most importantly the struggle. The enemy in America is the white man, the enemy over there, Zionism.

But after that, it diverges. The culture is a little different. There's no pretense of being "gangsta": showing no respect for others, no gawdy display of bling, no disrespect for women. Through it all there's much love and unity amongst the rappers and their crowds. Though impossible checkpoints and walls hold them back from seeing each other, what holds and brings them unity is this common identity, that they aren't just victims of powers they can't see, but they're all Palestinian.

on the radio we need to hear more local mc's

where you at? come on where you at?

this is the difference between mc'in and rap

rappers spit rhyme that are mostly illegal

mc's spit rhymes to uplift their people - KRS One

How do they stay in contact? Cell phones, chat, myspace. Things we use to supplement our communications with our people, they use as lifelines to stay in touch with theirs.

What is it that these arab rappers can do? They have the attention of the people, and they're slowly pulling them off the streets and from falling into the game (lupe), but then what? Making money and putting it back into the neighborhood seems to be the ideal. Informing the world through this rap-medium about their struggle is also another result. But that question still comes up, how can music alone bring about real change? It won't bring justice in an unjust world. But its the seed to something; a sense of pride, identity and unity, how it plays out from there, only God can tell.