Unilever, clean up your mess!

To complain about gum and skin allergies is not very sexy. How clever of campaigning organization Jhatkaa to ask rapper Sofia Ashraf to help out. A video directly addressed to consumer goods giant Unilever for exposing residents of Kodaikanal, India, to toxic mercury contamination, went viral. Not only because of the music, it is based on the pop-hit Anaconda, but also because of the lyrics.

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Bulletproof Stockings: female empowerment

The other day I was reading about the alternative rock band Bulletproof Stocking. The band based in New York, consists of Hasidic women. This caught me by surprise, because I reckoned that there is a taboo on female chant in this ultra-orthodox Jewish community. In an article (NRC. Next, August 27, 2014) founder, singer and keyboard player Perl Wolfe explains that men aren’t allowed to listen to female chant, because it may seduce them. However, that commandment is true merely for men. The solution is that Bulletproof Stockings plays for an only-female audience. Of course this evokes some juicy headlines.

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Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region

Amsterdam – On Sunday, June 15, a group of Arab writers, artists and journalists, gathered in the famous pop venue the Melkweg, to tell their stories in word, song, film, and theater. This event called Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region, was organized by World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch. The program featured music and keynote addresses by Reem Maged and Yassin Al-Haj Saleh.

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A call for artistic solidarity with L7a9ed

For the third time in three years artist and human rights activist Mouad Belghouat, alias El Haqed (The Indignant) or L7a9ed, got arrested on Sunday 18 May 2014. “El Haqed has been targeted for his political views and his participation in Morocco’s February 20th movement: On 20 February 2011, what began as a group of Moroccans expressing their frustration with the status quo grew to a nationwide movement that demanded change in Morocco.” (Free L7a9ed – Music is not a crime). Filmmaker, photographer and activist Nadir Bouhmouch put a video on his You Tube channel to call for artistic solidarity with L7a9ed.

L7a9ed
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No desire to be a good girl – an interview with Yasmine Hamdan

Paris – Last week News and Noise! was at Café de la Danse in Paris, to attend the concert of Yasmine Hamdan. It was an electrifying show with elements of underground and mysticism. Singer-songwriter and actress Hamdan is one of those free spirits seeking for inspiration. She needs the music to be able to express herself – especially coming from Lebanon, a damaged postwar country – and is considered an underground icon throughout the Arab world ever since Soapkills, the duo she founded in Beirut. After moving to Paris, Hamdan recorded an album with musician/producer Mirwais, and also collaborated with CocoRosie for a while. Together with Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague), she wrote and produced her first solo album in 2012, which was internationally released on Crammed Discs under the title Ya Nass. Both she and her song Hal appears in the Jim Jarmusch’ vampire movie Only lovers left alive. In a cute tea-house in the middle of Paris we had a very nice, open-hearted conversation, about her youth in postwar Lebanon, her non-conformism, her collection of old Arab songs and her music.

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“The Saharawi need an identity” – an interview with Aziza Brahim

Amsterdam – The liner notes of the third and newest album of Aziza Brahim, Soutak, has a strong message. “If things are not set right soon, we, the native people of the Western Sahara (“Saharawis”), will have traveled a road of some 40 years since our land was invaded, ravaged and robbed. A path that leads from napalm bombs to landmines; a route encompassing the exodus to the refugee camps in the South of Algeria and the cruel devastation and unjust condemnation of the brave Gdeim Izik (Camp of Dignity); a march from medieval colonialism to neoliberal imperialism; all of it face to face with the silent complicity of the large international organizations.” Aziza Brahim (1976) was born and raised in the Saharawi refugee camps in the Tindouf region of Algeria where her family settled, after fleeing from the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. When she was 11 years old, she journeyed to Cuba to pursue her secondary school studies. Back in the refugee camps she committed to self-education and the development of her own musical expression. Now many years, awards, movies, and three albums later, her album Soutak has reached number 1 of the European World Charts. She appeared in the TV show of Jools Holland (UK), and last week she was in Amsterdam to perform at the TV show Vrije Geluiden. News & Noise spoke to her shortly before she had to return to Barcelona.

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Big in Iran – an interview with Rita

– Marseille. Babel Med is a world music expo and conference from 20-22 of March, in Marseille. The organization likes to program showcases with an interesting story, like the Libyan hiphop crew G.A.B. and Israeli singer Rita Jahanforuz, simply known as Rita. With a career of 25 years, sold-out concerts and multi-platinum records, Rita is one of the Israeli top female singers. Since her album My Joys (2011), she became even big in Iran. As a born Iranian, Rita decided to record a personal album inspired by her Persian heritage. News & Noise joined in at the press conference and learned that her music is more than just showbiz.

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“We are trying to give a good image of Libya” – an interview with G.A.B.

Marseille – At the world music expo Babel Med, last month, News & Noise spoke with Seraj Kamel/G Thug AKA Lantren, the crew manager and one of the rappers of G.A.B. (Good against Bad). This zealous Libyan hip-hop group is reveling in and grappling with the new freedom of expression that has flourished since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi. Sponsored by a French institute, G.A.B. came to Babel Med in Marseille to represent their country. This is their first international experience. The timing of their performance wasn’t that opportune, because they had to compete with the Congolese Jupiter & Okwess International. Despite their excellent rapping skills, for the delegates of Babel Med the message of G.A.B. seems to be far more interesting than their music. Talking with Seraj Kamel of G.A.B. gave us an interesting impression of today’s Libya.

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Six times Amazon: Songs of the Forest

The indigenous people in Brazil are largely seen as exotic creatures. There are Indians who adapted to modern civilization. But those how live remotely want to maintain their identity. They fight for their rights as you can read in the article about Belo Monte. Modern people tend to see their life style as the only right one. But why not learn from the indigenous? This is what the music group Mawaca coming from São Paulo did. They not only learned songs from them but they had a true musical exchange. In this article (including the documentary Mawaca – Cantos da Floresta) Brazilian journalist and photographer Eduardo Vessoni gives a report of Mawaca’s encounter with six indigenous groups in 2011.

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