Posts Tagged ‘Omar Offendum’

Arab Rappers in Solidarity

April 22, 2011 3 comments

Great new piece by raptivist and scholar Aisha Fukushima on New America Media:

Arab Rappers in Solidarity With Uprisings in Middle East & North Africa

 Arab Rappers in Solidarity With Uprisings in Middle East & North Africa

New America Media, News Report, Aisha Fukushima, Posted: Apr 16, 2011

Many prominent Arab hip-hop artists inspired by uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have released music in solidarity with protesters in the region. Though the messages of these new songs are not necessarily new to Arab hip-hop, the urgency and relevance of this new music has gained these artists increasing international attention.While Arab hip-hop started to gain its recognition in the ‘90s, tracing back the history can be difficult in light of the fact that it stems from such a complex fusion of diasporic communities, people, art and culture. In North America, for instance, artists such as Fredwreck and The Narcicyst are cited as pioneers of Arab hip-hop, while groups such as DAM are credited with jump-starting the movement in Palestine.In a conversation with Excentrik, an East Bay music producer, “actionist” (action activist and oud player), he explained, “Yeah, there’s an Arab hip-hop scene, but it’s a global scene, it’s not like a localized scene. Unfortunately, there’s not enough cats doing quality shit that have like a [single] place to go in any of these cities… It’s an esoteric scene, it’s random because it’s so big and so spread apart.” While there are certainly active indigenous Arab hip-hop scenes throughout much of North Africa and the Middle East, the majority of the most celebrated emcees in the global scene are based in North America and Europe, where hip-hop has had a longer history and faces less challenges in terms of censorship.

“Muslim Woodstock”?

June 23, 2010 Leave a comment

From Maytha Alhassen, a Ph.D. student studying Muslim American identity at the University of Southern California and blogging for CNN.

The Narcicyst and Omar Offendum take the stage.

Some have facetiously referred to it as the Muslim Woodstock.

But for all the differences between 1969’s three days of peace and music and Saturday’s Takin’ it to the Streets festival in Chicago—a daylong Muslim-led arts and music festival—there is some truth to the comparison.

Read more…

Narcicyst x SXSW: No Party in Apartheid

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

For those of us (myself included) who missed last week’s South by Southwest festival, there was one notable event that took place outside of the venues and that was a small but heartfelt protest against a private Israeli consulate party.  The party featured a number of Israeli bands, including the popular Hip Hop act, Soulico, at a club in downtown Austin. However, not everyone found the timing of the party to be particularly appropriate (but since when do Israelis give a F about timing?). Iraqi-Canadian rapper The Narcicyst, alongside Syrian-American rapper Omar Offendum and Palestinian rapper Ragtop, led a rally outside the club, with bullhorns & placards, chanting “Ain’t no party in apartheid!”

The reference to South Africa is apt, in my opinion and from my firsthand observation of the willful isolation of Arabs (read: Palestinians) in Israel. And the protest also strikes me as completely appropriate, if not necessary, given the announcement only a week earlier of the construction of 1600 new Israeli homes in East Jerusalem, an arrogant affront to the world community.

Narcy puts it very succinctly in an interview that was later broadcast on NPR, “Our basic thing is BDS: Boycott Divestment Sanctions. We want the people of Palestine to be represented and for them to have an identification just like everybody else in the world does.”

Here’s a lil video from the protest (thanks to participant Grace Alfar)

One of the members of Soulico, Ronen Sabbo, felt that Narcy and the other protestors were protesting against the wrong people: “They don’t know us personally, they don’t know what we are about. They don’t know that we are trying to do the opposite of any government or of any occupation or establishment. We are trying to do music with people like Arabic MCs, Arabic singers, we have Arabic instruments, and, it’s funny that they demonstrate in front of us as if we’re soldiers. We’re just musicians you know.”

But I have to admit, and Narcy says the same in his own response, the protest is not against the musicians themselves but against a government whose actions they implicitly condone by agreeing to play at their party. Narcy said, “We have no problem, we’re not here to boycott the artists per se, we did research on the artists and checked their work out and it’s not necessarily anything against them, but the Israeli consulate represents the Israeli government, regardless, so you can’t really separate the two.”

Anat Gilead, Israeli consul to the US for cultural affairs, had this to say: “We’re doing culture here. We’re focusing on music and people that music can bring. That is what we’re here for.” But I can’t accept that any thinking person could celebrate culture in the midst of a total disrespect for humanity.

There really is just no party in apartheid (except, unjustly, for the oppressors). The just party will be afterward, when the separation and humiliation finally come to an end and everyone can join, or at least enjoy their own, in peace.

(“Ain’t no party in apartheid” courtesy of Narcy’s excellent blog:

Photo credit: Laith Majali / Immortal Entertainment (