Unilever, clean up your mess!

Kodaikanal_Won_tby Charlie Crooijmans

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. Continue reading

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Rapping about social troubles – an interview with Sadat El3almy

Hatim Suleiman and Sadat

Hatim Suleiman and Sadat in Amsterdam

by Hatim Suleiman

In an evening lecture (Amsterdam, May 21st) organized by the North Africa and Middle East department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the serious title, “Youth Unemployment, Counter-Culture and Instability”, we (Charlie Crooijmans and me) were surprised to see the name of the young Egyptian rapper Sadat among the speaker guests (young political activists and a professor economist). The young street rapper – a star in the new wave of Egyptian popular music called “mahragan” (rap on electronic music with heavy use of Auto-Tune ) – doesn’t speak English. Unfortunately did not get a chance to speak out in such a foreign and formal setting. However, in a 5 minutes rap at the end of the evening, he kind of wrapped it all up.

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Rappers comment on the Delhi rape

by Charlie Crooijmans

The 23-year old Indian girl, who was  gang-raped in New Delhi, died last night in the hospital of Singapore. This horrible incident is making a harsh reality of India visible. In the rankings of TrustLaw, a news service run by Thomson Reuters, India turns out to be the worst country for a woman to live in (BBC News). In New Delhi there have been protests and the whole world has become a witness. It is very important to keep the subject on top of the agenda. A very welcome contribution to this is the voice of a young rapper from Kashmir. Continue reading

Egypt: Singing a revolution.

by Hatim Suleiman

Egypt is back in the news, like one year ago: demonstrations, millions marching and sitting in Tahrir Square, clashes with security forces in the heart of Cairo. One year after  the 25th of January “planned demonstration” that turned into a revolution getting millions out, in what came to be known as “the liberation squares” around the country. Named after the biggest: Tahrir (liberation) Square in Cairo. “Occupying” – or actually – regaining control of  their squares and streets from President Mubarak’s security forces and refusing to leave until their demands are met. Mubarak eventually stepped down the 11th of  February 2011, handing over power to the army’s military commanders known as the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces). SCAF immediately paid homage to those killed in the revolution and vowed to carry on with its demands in a transitory period.  One year later however the revolution continues, the  slogan DOWN with SCAF rule replacing last year’s down with Mubark’s rule.

All along songs are used. There’s no way to document the songs of a revolution that simply had not ended and that continuously evolves. Loads of young musicians, amateurs and professionals took the chance to present their music directly to the street public or via social media. This is only a quick sketch of some of the musical moments of this revolution that gave it part of its soundtrack and image (due to the inseparable video clips).
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