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Arab rapper X Jewish Rapper: Mazzi & Sneakas

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Having just completed my last post about the Arab-Israeli film “Ajamai”,  I felt it only right to brave the (second) blizzard of aught-ten to go see Mazzi & Sneakas, your favorite rapper’s favorite Arab-Israeli rap duo, at the world-famous Nuyorican Poets Café. The pair were performing alongside their spoken word sisters, the veiled Palestinian poetess, Tahani Salah, and the ‘Jewish Mamita’, Vanessa Hidary, as part of the Tug of War Tour, a project they describe on Facebook as a “thought-provoking and multi-dimensional artistic endeavor that explores narratives of conflict and co-existence between Muslims and Jews”. After seeing the show last night, I am prepared to cosign that description. The rappers’ lyrics and the women’s words relayed stories that made me think, laugh, and then think some more about the state of co-existence between Muslims and Jews the world over. Indeed, it is laughably and tragically poor.

And yet, witnessing performances like this one keeps me stocked with confidence that my generation, the Hip Hop generation, has the power to change the narrative, nay, is already changing it. I saw this last week in “Ajami“, imagining the young co-directors, one Arab Christian, the other Israeli Jew, working together for 7 years to realize a vision of storytelling in the Middle East that noone had realized (or perhaps even had) before. And I saw it last night, as 4 New Yorkers, two male, two female, two Jews, two Muslims, took to the stage in a display of artistic solidarity that was neither corny nor cheesy, but completely genuine, proving that concepts like ‘collaboration’, ‘cooperation’ and ‘coexistence’ do not have to be cynical punchlines or pie-in-the-sky dreamings, but real goals that we can strive for in life as in art.

Here’s one highlight from Mazzi & Sneakas’ set, where the two pair off in a cultural rap battle that could only happen in Jew York Medina. As Sneakas puts it, “We’re all Jews, we’re all Arabs, we’re all the same, yada, yada, yada.”

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