NYT rock-dude Jon Pareles reviewed a night of rappers from the Arab Spring at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last week. And isn’t it great to see the Arab Spring as a source for liberation energy around the world–yes? And Pareles is open to this, god bless him. Notice the uplifting voice:
A lineup of Tunisian, Egyptian, Malian and (London-born) Palestinian rappers, including activists from the Arab Spring, brought songs of protest and self-determination. The concert, which including the United States debuts of El Général from Tunisia and Deeb from Egypt, celebrated a courageous new forthrightness from Middle Eastern rappers. It also showed the pervasiveness of hip-hop, and how it works differently as a catalyst wherever it arrives….
But the idea of hip-hop as a voice of the poor and disenfranchised has traveled globally to places where songs can still be rallying cries.
Uh-oh– then Palestinian Shadia Mansour took the stage:
Ms. Mansour was backed by DJ Johnny Juice, who helped create Public Enemy’s sound, in raps that were scrappy, vehement and polemical. Her lyrics flare with anger at the Palestinian situation. One song rewrote a nursery rhyme to praise resistance: “They all have tanks, but we have stones/They demolish our homes and kill our children,” she declared. “Oh Palestine the free, oh Gaza the brave/Zionism shall be defeated.”
Amkoullel [from Mali] had far less divisive messages, in songs that called for an end to corruption, better public education, more positive images of Africa.
Divisive? To decry oppression and imagine freedom for 4-5 million people with no rights? And in a newspaper where a Jewish professor of philosophy states that we have to question the right of a Jewish state to exist? I’m sure Pareles is anxious about this, so he lands on the safe chair. But what can you say about this? I admit I am spouting profanities at my desk. Thanks to Max Blumenthal.