Homeland Hip-Hop

Had the great pleasure of seeing the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM live in Brooklyn last night (alongside the fantastic Rebel Diaz and many other talented artists). The show was a fund-raiser to send a delegation of Native American and Chicano youth activists to Palestine this summer; it was very interesting to me to hear the way in which US rappers from different ethnic backgrounds related their struggle against racism and oppression to that of the Palestinians.

What was even more interesting was just to hear the music. Listening to DAM was humbling of course--I understood about 1 word out of 50--but their website offers a great feature where you can listen to the songs in Arabic and read the lyrics in English. One show-stopper they did was to rap the Arabic alphabet--each letter got a few lines using only words that started with that letter-- forwards and back. And they were just great performers--funny, gutsy, charismatic. They're featured prominently on the documentary Sling Shot Hip-Hop, which everyone I talk to says is fantastic, and which has just been released on DVD (but I think its availability is still limited). I will be watching this film soon, hopefully, as several friends picked up copies at the show.

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.