My name is Ibrahim Ghunaim. I’m 26 years old rapper from the Gaza Strip. I perform under the moniker MC Gaza.
You may have seen this video of me performing near the front lines of the Great March of Return as Israeli snipers gunned down our youth and rained torrents of tear gas upon us. It’s with a heavy heart that I inform you that was the last video I recorded before in the Gaza Strip before leaving – likely permanently.
The Gaza Strip is not typically associated with rap music. We have a conservative culture and many reject this art form.
It was by coincidence that I came across rap. After going to my first concert when I was 13 years old, I became enamored with the way rap artists could freely express themselves. I spent countless hours on the internet, meticulously studying what others were doing. I began to write, carrying my pen and paper all over Gaza. Whether at my house, in cafes or at the beach, I would write what I thought about daily life under a suffocating occupation and the internalized problems of Palestinian society in Gaza. I am committed to delivering key messages to the Palestinian community. I have produced educational songs for children on the dangers of war and conflict and I participated in many events on behalf of people with disabilities, women’s rights and families of Palestinian prisoners.
I am not a naturally extroverted person, and Gaza’s conservative culture made performing rap music an even more difficult endeavor. I’ve been laughed at and mocked when I have said that I perform rap. But like so many situations I’ve found myself in, being a rapper in Gaza demands perseverance. I have refused to allow my dreams to be crushed.
Here is one example of the difficulties I faced performing rap music in Gaza: In 2008, a hip-hop competition was organized in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It was a competition consisting of several concerts. The outcome depended on the final concert performance. The competition happened to be at the same time as my secondary exams. When it was my turn to perform, a security officer stormed the performance. Well aware of the inhumane treatment that awaited, the other performers and I ran out of the building. I hopped on a motorbike with someone I had never met and we quickly escaped. To this day, I remember how terrifying it was.
After trying to organize my first concerts by myself, it became clear that it was impossible because of the high cost and climate of fear of attending rap concerts. The possibility of being arrested by the local government in Gaza always exists. In one of my attempts to organize an event, they demanded gender segregation and to inform them of the themes of songs that I would perform. In other instances, they simply denied me permission to perform.
In this suffocating environment, I realized I faced a bleak future where there was no place for rap. I left the Gaza Strip three months ago for Tunisia after I paid a smuggler $2,800 to put my name on a list of those who are allowed to leave Gaza. This precarious arrangement is a common solution for those of us in Gaza fortunate enough to be able to accumulate such sums.
Now, I need your support to step forward to a new stage in my journey with rap.
Over the past two years, I have worked hard to produce my album Step 25. I am now in a new country and in a new stage of my life. I have created a fundraising campaign in order to pursue my dreams. The amount I have designated will help me to cover the production and publishing costs. My life is still changing and I need your support to move forward.
I want to continue rapping with unrestrained freedom now and indifference to the consequences. If you believe I should have the chance to succeed, please support me.
Please support my music by donating to my Go Fund Me page.