FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hip-Hop for Palestine

Art amplifies voices on the margins–the views and opinions that power silences. But while money and influence can control editorial boards and network TV, they cannot stop the individual’s creative process. As long as the powerful breed disparity, their victims will find ways to express themselves.

Last month, the Palestinian-American hip-hop crew The Philistines announced the release of a CD dedicated to the youth of Palestine. The compilation CD, titled “Free the P,” brings together over 20 hip-hop and spoken word artists. Its aim is to promote awareness about the Palestinian struggle for freedom while raising funds to support an upcoming documentary film–SlingShot Hip Hop–about hip-hop in Palestine.

This is likely the first musical collaboration of its kind. “Free the P,” shows the cool side of globalization–the grassroots version that undermines corporate power. Conscious American MC’s and poets of diverse backgrounds put down verses exposing the plight of the Palestinians and showing solidarity with Palestinian artists. According to executive producer Ragtop, while dedicated to Palestine, the CD was inspired by “the global struggle for peace and justice.”

The CD cover represents just how international this project is. It features Handala, the icon originated by the famous Palestinian cartoonist, Naji Al-Ali. According to Al-Ali, Handala was at first a Palestinian child, but came to represent the consciousness of a “global and human horizon.” The artists on this CD do the same. The focus is on Palestine, but the songs touch on the war on Iraq, discrimination against minorities, the disproportionate power of the Neo-Cons, the so-called war on terrorism, the theft of Native America, and other subjects.

The artists come from all walks of life. Immortal Technique, a rising star of the musical underground, hails from Harlem, New York. Explicitly political, he draws inspiration from having been wrongfully imprisoned for fighting racists. Originally of Peruvian descent, he demonstrates a native’s knowledge of the Middle East and Islam in his attack on the media, “The 4th Branch.”

Suheir Hammad, one of the most prominent artists on the CD, is a published poet and spoken word artist. She is hip-hop to the bone, breathes Palestine, but her tongue is from New York. Fans of Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam recognize her instantly. Hammad is courageously vocal about numerous political and social issues affecting Arabs and Arab-Americans. Significantly, she discusses openly some of the problems with sexual abuse and harassment the Arab-American community faces.

Other contributors, such as Head-Roc, also champion progressive causes with a local element. Being a D.C. native, Head-Roc knows a little about having no political representation under a dominant power. Although D.C. citizens pay taxes, they have no Congressmen or Senators to advocate on their behalf in the halls of Congress. Palestinians might feel especially at home in the nation’s capitol, its police force having received training in minority intimidation techniques from their Israeli counterparts. Among these borrowed tactics is the D.C. police’s habit of running sirens randomly through certain neighborhoods-to remind residents who’s in charge.

One of the most talented MC’s on this mix-tape is Detroit’s own Invincible, who has already disavowed potentially lucrative record contracts to work directly with youth. In addition to teaching local youngsters art as a form of community activism, she also works on projects opposing police brutality and the prison-industrial system and is a staunch advocate of Palestinian rights. Invincible’s connection to the Holy Land is personal. She was born in Israel, which she calls “occupied Palestine.” In her song “No Compromises,” she rips critically into Israel’s current strategy in the West Bank:

A fortress is built, 25 feet tall
It’s 5 feet in concrete, Apartheid wall
It’s called a security fence
but all I seeis our superiority complex

Euphrates, an Iraqi-Canadian group, struggled last year with the loss of a key member, a producer and family member, Nofy Fannan, age 26. Their track “I.R.A.Q.” is one of the most poignant and musically fulfilling on the CD. The bass-heavy song features dark organs, violins, piano and a rich sample from an old Spanish ballad.

P.R. and DAM represent Palestine on “Free the P.” This gives the CD’s American listeners a chance to hear two of the documentary’s featured groups. Fitting, since all proceeds from sales of the CD will help fund the post-production and distribution of SlingShot Hip-Hop.

P.R. (Palestinian Rappers) are straight out of Gaza. In the SlingShot Hip-Hop trailer, they prepare for their first big gig–an auditorium packed with Palestinian youth. DAM, which has toured internationally, put together the charged anthem “Born Here,” about their town of Lid, to remind Zionists who the original inhabitants are. As Tamer Nafar raps in Arabic: “I was born here, my grandparents were also born here, you will not sever me from my roots.”

Though the film is due for a 2006 release, Slingshot Hip-Hop has already generated global attention. Most of the media buzz has centered on the novelty of Palestinian rappers-“Free the P” shows them to be part of a global solidarity movement. It connects the Palestinian struggle to the ground-level push for freedom and rights around the world, proving again the potential for strength and unity in art.

Visit the “Free the P” website: www.freethep.com
SlingShot Hip Hop: www.slingshothiphop.com
The Philistines: www.thephilistines.com

WILL YOUMANS is a writer with a blog: www.kabobfest.com.

He contributes frequently to the Arab-American News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLARIFICATION

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH

We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005

 

More articles by:

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail