last week when there was a strike i was not able to get to the hip hop for gaza concert in ramallah. but the following night was my dear friend ayah’s birthday. it was a sunday, and i had school that day and on monday as well, but she had asked if i would come down for her birthday, so i decided to surprise her. i left right after school last sunday and got to beit lahem around 6 pm. the hip hop gaza concert was the same night in beit lahem so we all went to the concert.
the concert featured a number of rappers from outside palestine and in each location it toured there were local rappers. the show opened and closed with rappers from deheishe refugee camp who were the highlight of the show. the group g-town from the refugee camp shufat in al quds was also fabulous (i hear they are giving another beit lahem concert for international women’s day in beit lahem tomorrow). you can click on the hip hop for gaza link above and download some of their music as well as the music of other rappers from jenin and al quds.
one of the rappers who performed was an iranian rapper from sweden, behrang miri, who had a fabulous song that he sang with a sample of “weyn ‘a ramallah.” the patriarch, a palestinian rapper who lives in the san francisco bay area, also performed. and there was a terrific iraqi rapper from the uk, low key. so did a somewhat hoarse shadia mansour, a palestinian rapper from the uk. she has a great new song with the rapper, narcycist, called “al hamdulilah,” which was recorded with a “gaza remix” recently, which i posted at the time from the narcycist’s blog. he has a link where you can download it.
the concert turnout was sparse, possibly because it was freezing cold. if it had been held in deheishe refugee camp instead of in a catholic church downtown i think it would have been packed in spite of the cold. but such is the racism here: if it were held in the camp no one from beit lahem would come. and because it was in beit lahem only a few people from the camp went. at one point towards the end of the show we lost electricity and it was great because everyone was unfazed. they just started freestyling and it was great.
my favorite song of the night was the one from deheishe, though. it was a song that this group of teenage rappers wrote called “tatbeee3,” which you can download from the hip hop for gaza site as well. it was a wonderful song about anti-normalization with israeli terrorists. after the concert we all went out for cake and sheesha at the citadel in the old city in beit sahour. the rappers from deheishe came, too. they were sitting at the other end of the table, though, so i did not notice when/what they ordered. when drinks came to the table, however, i was a bit shocked. one of rappers who created and sings this song that is against normalization had ordered an israeli orange juice (everyone else was drinking fresh lemonade with mint). so, of course, i asked him how someone who sings against normalization can normalize with their juice. it was really fascinating because he had not thought about it. normalizing when it comes to economic choices are so normalized that even people who are politically and philosophically against it make unconscious choices.
yet another reason why we need more education about the relationship between boycott, divestment, and sanctions and resistance… just like rap music is increasingly a form of resistance, so too is bds, but we need to do more work on this. there is so much work to be done…