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#Assaf360: Palestinian Singer Mohammed Assaf & Grammy-Winning Producer Rodney Jerkins create song for World Cup (Update)

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Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Screen shot:Livestream June 3,2014, Dubai)

Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Screenshot Assaf360 Livestream Dubai)

Grammy Award-winning mega producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins is in Dubai for a 24 hour interactive recording session/collaboration with Palestinian superstar Mohammed Assaf to create a song for Assaf’s performance at the opening ceremony of the 64th FIFA Congress in Brazil next week, by crowd-sourcing content from fans online. The event, hosted by Platinum records, is being live streamed to fans all over the world and is happening now.

I took some of these screenshots seconds ago, it’s a blast watching Assaf work because he switches from serious to laughing in seconds, clearly enjoying himself. And when he gets it right there’s pure joy. It’s so fun to watch.
Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 11.54.32 AM

Setting the beat (screenshot Assaf360, Dubai)

Setting the beat early in the session (Screenshot Assaf360, Dubai)

Collaborating on the project “Assaf 360” are leading Lebanese producers, Michel Fadl and Walid Al Fayed, and lyricist  Nizar Francis, who are all present during the 24 hour session.

Screen shot mixing Assaf360 chorus "Yala Yala"

Screen shot mixing Assaf360 chorus “Y’allah Y’allah”

Produced by Platinum Records the song will be an energetic cross-over fusion in an international football spirit of hope, coming together and hopefully, unite the world. Taymoor Marmarchi, head of Platinum Records said he wanted to “shake things up.” They’ve been planning this production the last 3 months, and Marmarchi is “thrilled to have the amazing hit-producer Rodney Jerkins leading the music for this one-of-a-kind fusion with our fantastic Artist Assaf. ”

Mohammed Assaf will be the first Arab singer to ever perform at a global FIFA opening ceremony.

Gulf News Mohammad Assaf makes Fifa magic in Dubai:

“Some journalists asked me — have you really not prepared anything in advance for today? I told them, you’ll see with your own eyes — we haven’t prepared anything,” Assaf told tabloid!. “We started on the rhythm this morning … We wanna do a song that brings across the sporty spirit, the energy behind that.”



Fans and followers have been sending in their ideas for lyrics on Twitter using the hashtag #Assaf360.

Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, has worked with music legends such as Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Lady Gaga. Gulf News reports:

Jerkins, who had only slept one hour due to jet lag  and was up at 4am singing melodies to himself, said he was in awe of Assaf’s voice and planned to make the most of it.

“You gotta think about the stadium, you gotta think about [the chanting and clapping of the crowd]. I’ve been saying the word ‘yallah!’ a lot, which means ‘lets go’, so I’m thinking that ‘yallah’ is going to be the [song’s] big chant part.”

“I love playing football — I think boys tend to lean towards that,” he said, flashing a smile. “Even though I sing, I’ve always been interested in it and I watch all the different tournaments in Spain, Germany and England. It’s a universal language.”

This is an exciting time, coming on the heels of Palestine’s National Football team winning an historic victory last Friday at the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup final. What a great combination, Mohammed Assaf, Rodney Jerkins, and football.

All proceeds from the song will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees (Update: purchase here). And if you have yet to see Assaf’s hit Ya Halali Ya Mali filmed at Bouroj -Barajneh Refugee Camp in Beirut, he takes it to a whole new level:

Mohammed Assaf 360

Mohammed Assaf 360 promotional graphic

It’s history in the making and so much fun to watch live.

(h/t Chris @ IMEU)

(Previous Mohammed Assaf coverage on Mondoweiss available here)

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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12 Responses

  1. just on June 3, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Oh my, Ms. Annie! Joy, joy, joy!!!

    I just read Dave Zirin’s piece on the super- fantastic Palestinian team’s win– he’s such a wonderful guy. You introduced so many of us to him, the plight of the team, and to Mohammed Assaf.

    “‘And Still We Rise’: Palestinian Soccer Stands Tall”

  2. Real Jew on June 3, 2014, 4:48 pm

    Im so damn happy for this kid. Assaf grew up in the worst possible environment of occupation but turned all the negativity surrounding him into something positive something all humans from all countries can appreciate and support. Like all Palestinians (im half) im inspired by his resilience.
    Now the next step…trying to get fifa to put the hammer down on israel for trying to destroy palestinian soccer through shooting Pal players, travel restrictions, ect

  3. pabelmont on June 3, 2014, 6:11 pm

    It is not every day a Palestinian will sing as official singer to the real world, that is, the world’s soccer (futbol) fans. This is terrific, as he is.

    As RealJew says, he sings also to the FIFA officials. He will not ask for the FIFA to oust Israel, but the message will “be there between the lines” if people know about it. let’s help make sure they do.

  4. annie on June 3, 2014, 7:15 pm

    Rodney&friends are working on the chorus mix now. it’s really fun to watch how they do it. it’s also hard to get anything done today watching this captivating music-in-the- making. i added another screenshot btw. i can anticipate what i’m going to be wasting way too many hours on today~ ha! it’s fun. the chorus is in english…it’s cool. ..”wake up i feel alright, this is your night, we will survive yala yala” it’s going to be a hit i can tell. very smart move by producers.

    • just on June 3, 2014, 7:19 pm

      I can get the video, but no sound.


      • annie on June 3, 2014, 11:32 pm

        the video i added to the draft up top, or the livestream?

      • just on June 4, 2014, 6:22 am

        The livestream– I only hear some itty- bitty snippets. But your video plays beautifully! There is so much joy and happiness reflected in the making of this song. “this is your life…just shout out y’allah!”

        (I think that is what he is singing– please correct me if I am wrong)

        The opening graphic is really good.

      • annie on June 4, 2014, 11:18 am

        just, the livestream isn’t working anymore but yesterday while i was listening to them mix the chorus i think part of the repeated line was an extended “whoa whoa” and then i’m on your side, we will survive yallah yallah.

        and here is where you can buy the song on itunes:

      • just on June 4, 2014, 11:43 am

        Thanks Annie.

        It’s so awesome. I swear, the little bit that I managed to see revealed very happy and excited people………I really am looking forward to the “reveal”– he & this team will “bring down the house” all over the world!

  5. John Douglas on June 3, 2014, 7:37 pm

    Wonderful story, Annie. Thanks

  6. John B on June 4, 2014, 3:19 pm

    Many Thanks for the Alert, Annie! fascinating experience..

    the result- i.e. the new song- can be heard here:



    • annie on June 4, 2014, 3:39 pm

      yikes! nope

      This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by MBC Group.

      i think you can buy it on itunes tho (see link in text above under “purchase here”)if you’re out of the country. itunes is telling me “The item you’ve requested is not currently available in the U.S. store.”), but we wouldn’t be able to publish it. next week when he performs i am sure they’ll be a live video available.

      edit (a few days later!) i added the new video up top!

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