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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Hip-hop idols. Sorry for the trouble.

Hip-hop idols

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Here is an interesting photo that I took recently. Sorry, the quality isn't too good so click on the photo to get the larger version. The picture shows the boundary wall of a nursery school in Bahrain with some graffiti sprayed on it. On the panel on the right hand side is spray-painted "ya Allah" (O Allah). On the left side panel, if you look closely, you will see that "2PAC" has been spray-painted by someone else, referring to the murdered rapper Tupac Shakur. It is quite interesting that these two specific phrases were chosen. I think it is a good illustration of the extent of globalization in a place such as Bahrain, and the often surprising identities it creates. :)
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2 Responses to 'Hip-hop idols'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Osama’s getting jiggy with it? Although totally bizarre, there is something apt about this synthesis between Islamic extremism and rap that you’ve highlighted in this post and your previous one about the Al-Qaeda hip hop track. The culture of violence and resentment that is at their core means that there’s a lot of cross over appeal for fans of both in this region. And neither rap fans nor Islamic fundamentalists are big on irony so they probably don’t appreciate how bizarre they look.

One of the funniest things about the Ajram riot was the way many of the Islamic rioters were dressed in the urban street gear so beloved of the rap world.    

Blogger Chanad says:

Just a note: I don't have a post about the al-Qaeda hip-hop track... I think you're referring to the post at Bahraini Blog.

Anyhow, I'm not too sure that I would agree entirely with your take on the situation. First of all, we can't assume that both statements ("ya Allah" and "2PAC") were written by the same person, or even the same category of persons. It could well be the case that this is an example of two different social groups competing for space in the public sphere. And this idea seems to go along with observations by other Bahrainis who see today's youth in Bahrain as being split between the "private school posse" (who are more likely to associate with 2pac) and the "religious socially active" (who would probably associate with Allah).

Another way to look at it is to go along with your suggestion that both of these symbols ("ya Allah" and "2PAC") may actually appeal to the same group of people. I think there may be truth in this, however I would disagree with your reasoning that the common appeal is that of "violence and resentment." I'm not a huge hip-hop fan, but I know enough to say that there is more to it than this. There is alot of hip-hop out there which is focused on social empowerment, or constructing identities for the disenfranchised. And I don't think we can necessarily assume that the person who spray-painted "ya Allah" was an Islamic fundamentalist as you have suggested. There are many social groups which draw inspiration from Islam without being fundamentalist or violent. In that respect, I think it's possible for someone to respect both 2PAC and Islam for supposedly voicing social injustices or something of the sort. There is a really fascinating paper in one of the ISIM Nesletters which analyses the relationship between the apolitical Tablighi Jama'at and hip-hop culture in France.

Anyways, it is a very interesting phenomena, and it would take alot more research to fully understand how to explain what is taking place.    

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