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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=Rap al-3rabi. Sorry for the trouble.

Rap al-3rabi

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I mentioned hip-hop in a post a couple days back. Well here is another very interesting phenomenon from our region that I've been following for a while now: Arab rap. That is, hip-hop music rapped in the Arabic language. Although there are a few different Arab rap movements out there (Algerian, Lebanese) the one I'd like to focus on is that coming from Arab-Israelis. A good source that I've come upon for this is ArabRap.net. The biggest names out there are MWR, DAM, Ta3m al 2alam, and a few others.

The sociological profile of Arab-Israelis matches almost exactly that in which hip-hop is likely to flourish, as laid out in the theory. Like African-Americans in the US, and North Africans in France, in Israel the minority Arab community is on the margins of the mainstream society. Arab-Israeli towns have much higher unemployment, lower education levels, less public funding, and less access to social welfare. Because of their ethnicity they are viewed by their compatriots as traitors, or second-rate citizens. At the same time however, the Arab Nation at large (wa6an al-3rabi) also views the Arab-Israelis as traitors for accepting the Israeli state(de facto) by not fleeing as did many other Palestinians of the time. Because of their Israeli passports they are not able to get visas to visit many Arab states -- this especially affect the Muslims among them who desire to go to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.

In short, they have existed as a half-caste community without being able to fully belong to either an Israeli or Arab identity. The result is Arab rap. Compared to the tame lyrics of Fairuz, or the teeny-bopper apolitical music of Amro Diab, these Arab rappers have hard-hitting things to say. Yet they are still poetic and avoid the trashy style of Sha'ban Abdelrahim ("bakrah Israel"). Their criticisms are directed both at the Israeli state, for denying them their basic rights, as well as towards the Arab leaders for not aiding or even recognizing them. Through hip-hop, these guys (and girls) are trying to carve out a niche for themselves within the ideological and sociological landscape of both Israel and the Arab Nation.

One of the most powerful songs is "Meen Erhabe" (Who's the terrorist) by DAM. You can listen to their song as well as watch a video to go along with it here (the page has a couple other interesting videos also). Here are some lyrics (translated) from the song:
You want me to go to the law?
What for?
You're the Witness, the Lawyer, and the Judge!
Your countless raping of the Arabs’ soul
Finally impregnated it
Gave birth to your child
His name: Suicide Bomber
And then you call him the terrorist?
You silence me and shout:
"But you let small children throw stones!"
"Don’t they have parents to keep them at home?"
You must have forgotten you buried our parents under the rubble of our homes
I’m not against peace
Peace is against me
It’s going to destroy me
They've got a thing or two to say about Arabs also. These lyrics are from the song "Khamsoon 3am" ("Fifty Years") by Ta3m al 2alam:
The meaning of development is upside down for us (Arabs)
We lost track
After getting beaten up, and lost, and being eaten up by the fire like wood,
It makes you wonder how Arabs are still saying:
"That is what’s written".
The world has scaled mountains and crossed valley and hills,
But what worries the Arabs is how to eat with their left hand.
If you haven't heard them yet, then you should definitely check them out. You can download a bunch of mp3s at ArabRap.net. Not everything is amazing, but there are a few songs which are quite powerful. They have some valuable things to say, so I hope their movement continues growing. Does anyone know if there is any khaleeji rap available by any chance?

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7 Responses to 'Rap al-3rabi'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

They definitely have some hard-hitting lyrics..
tame lyrics of feiruz?? whoooaaa... that's gutsy to say    

Blogger Chanad says:

Okay, maybe "tame" was the wrong word to use. My point is that these guys say what they have to say unabashedly, whereas Fairuz packaged her statement in metaphors without actually explicitly describing the realities. Yes, both of these styles have their virtues, but I'm highlighting that of Arab rap because they are saying things that no Arabs have said before so publicly through music. (Except of course Sha'ban Abdulraheim... but no one takes him seriously).

Moreover, Fairuz talked about taking back historical Palestine and many other idealistic notions. These rappers however very much aware of the ground realities... they don't want to march and take over Israel... they just want what's rightfully theirs... employment, welfare, the end of racism,... better education, and recognition among both Arabs and Israelis.    

Anonymous Anonymous says:

This is the pits. Arab rap is even more embarrassing than French pop music. Even Patel rap – some little Indian guy in a village rapping in Hindi isn’t quite as bad. Arab rappers make me want to vote for Adel Mouwdah.    

Blogger Chanad says:
5/20/2004 11:42:00 pm

Haha. You're right... some of it is quite embarassing. But some of them actually do say some meaningful things. But it seems as though they're already anticipating your criticism... here is what Ta3m al 2alam have to say to you:

All I want is to find the nation that forgot that I’m originally Arab
and I’m singing rap
even if they ask what one has to do with the other (i.e. being Arab and singing rap)
Whoever disapproves can go listen to Abdel Halim, or Amro Diab, or trance in a Saab.
Rap is for black people but I’m gonna make a revolution
And if you wanna criticize that I don’t understand music
well, I’m never gonna see you or ask you what the reason is.
(from the song Khamsoon 3am)    

Anonymous EddieMoney-JuJu says:
3/20/2005 04:06:00 pm

just would like to say that this is s sweet site.

guys check us out at :


You can download our tracks. Pls drop us a line and let us know what ya'll think

Koming straight out da United Arab Emirates.

Salam ya shabab

Anonymous Anonymous says:
4/11/2005 07:02:00 am


abstract hip hop, electronica, trip hop, downtempo, drum n bass... from Ramallah, Palestine    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
4/17/2005 02:09:00 am

great site man...www.ramallahunderground.com was really sweet , and that site JUJU put up was sweet too...i hope y'all unite with this arab hiphop thing..and take this one step further...    

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