on the anniversary of al-nakba and the creation of isreal, i went to a hip hop show

with 2 acts:

opening was Invincible, as well as Finale, both of the finest in detroit MCs.

headline was DAM, Da Arabian MCs, hailed as the first and only hip hop group of its kind.

the twist?

Invincible is a jewish female rapper and DAM is composed of three arab muslim rappers from the slums of Lod, Israel, performing together on the sixtieth anniversary of a day celebrated by some as Isreal's birthday and others as Palestine's catastrophe.

crazy. the show was so so so hype and i thoroughly enjoyed it. sometimes one of the most important elements an MC has to offer - flow - is not easily translated into german, russian, thai - and all the languages on this green earth that hip hop infiltrated from its brooklyn birth, its graph/bboy/beatbox beginnings.

though i don't speak a lick of arabic ('cept Insha'Allah, Salam Alaikum and my names - that's bout it) i felt like 'yo, flow knows flow, and i know these MCs got flow though fe real' cause they were wicked on the mic, i mean wicked on the mic, crazy variation of rhythm/style, punctuation of beats, i even detected some joke-dropping - these guys were just doing what they do best.

And you know hip hop hands right? It is easy to fake the gestures that fly when a MC gets on a mic, but these guys were so genuine in their movements - but watch how culture contests - at one point, one fella held his hands almost in a gesture muslim prayer, palms up and open, fingers pressed close together held out in front of his chest; with the mic between one thumb and forefinger, head slightly lowered and eyes closed i wished for a picture in that instant - suppose i'll have to remember...

most impressive are their beats - wholly integrated hip hop and traditional music - ancient and present, rural and urban all at once. there was a point when the crowd was singing back salam alaikum to busta rhymes "touch it" beat - pretty nutso but trust that i was shouting my face off.

now I have yet to discuss the opening act- very very very talented MCs I felt and of course the beats were sickwickedgood (detroit kills hip hop beats, forget a too-easy sample or a cheesy loop, i'm talkin quality produced music) but the white female rapper ryhmin about apartheid raised a heated discussion amongst myself and a good friend of mine. now i can't completely relay her opinion but basically it went down like this

'black oppression ie. apartheid is off limits for a white MC's lyrics; when she and i are equal all over she can talk about it' vs. 'c'mon experience is not always tied to race, we all gotta cooperate to change, respect that she respects the cause'

i'll continue this later,


meta1 said...

beautiful post about DAM. But I don't understand this part: 'black oppression ie. apartheid is off limits for a white MC's lyrics; when she and i are equal all over she can talk about it' vs. 'c'mon experience is not always tied to race, we all gotta cooperate to change, respect that she respects the cause'

can you explain?

pomegranate queen said...
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pomegranate queen said...

to me it's much more than respecting a cause. it's about checking one's positionality in relation to a struggle and engaging in meaningful solidarity.

it's hard to trust white people who are "in solidarity" with struggles outside their lived experiences. there's also the issue of appropriating struggles which is too rampant amongst white activists. Speaking *for* a people is messed up. It's about empowering, not silencing.

white allies can use their privilege to challenge other white people and also support the *empowerment* of those who's voices are silenced by oppressive systems and structures. But his means heavy self-reflection and for white people to check their positionality at all times. To be aware of their privilege(s).

Solidarity is an ongoing process....involves continual dialoguing and putting one another in check. and this doesn't just go for white people, but for people of color who support one another's struggles.

people aren't automatically down because they're heart is in it or because they have struggles of their own. Struggles may intersect, but there are specific relations of power and oppression that must be recognized before we can create solidarity.

i don't think people outside of a struggle should not speak about it. but unless there's heavy self-reflecting, dialoguing and awareness, it can end up rearticulating the same colonial (appropriative) discourse. No matter how much the heart is in it.

glued blue glass said...

I think you are totally correct PQ. I know as a white person of privilege I struggle with the best way to make people aware of oppression and injustice. And, to be totally honest, there are moments where I can be quite patronizing. I am working on it. I try to learn from my mistakes.