Thursday, July 14, 2011

From protest songs to revolutionary anthems

Protesters of the Arab Spring are realising the power of music, and finding their voices in styles from folk to hip hop.

Mark LeVine

On the Street, but not of the Street?

There are many reasons Arab hip hop has become one of the defining cultural motifs of the revolts of the last eight months. It's gritty, angry, and evokes the kind of urban imagery - poverty, unemployment, police brutality, lack of life chances - that were at the heart of hip hop culture before it was taken over by bling. Today, Tunis, Cairo and other Arab capitals have, in one sense, inherited the mantle of Compton, Oakland or Brooklyn, where much of the most famous political American rap emerged.....

It is clear, from our experience, that among the greatest challenges facing artists in particular, and especially those particpants in the ongoing sturggles for social and political change, is the difficulty of actually creating the physical spaces for them to meet and collaborate. This meeting and concert showed that however important new media and hi tech communications have clearly become, they are still no substitute for face to face interaction (a point equally well proven in the success of the revolutions once they actually moved from facebook to the streets in collaborative action).

At the same time we will continue to try to reach out to those who couldn't meet with us through these forms of social media. We will bring them into the musical and visual dialogue as much as possible with the hope, always, that at the end of the day we'll all be sharing the same real stage - whether at Tahrir, the Carthage Museum, or hopefully in the near future, the Damascus Citadel or rebuilt Pearl of Bahrain."

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