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(UTN1) Rock in Peace: Middle East bands take stage to get message heard

A growing number of young Arab musicians are trying to present an alternative picture of their homeland, different from the traditional one – conflicts and oil.

They are young, they have a vibe and they are taking the world by storm. They are the new “Arab League” of rap and rock stars. They share the same beat and can mobilize millions of foot-soldiers, young fans around the world who follow their music and their message.

Hassan Ali Al-Falluji, a musician from the band UTN1, defines this message: “We’re with peace, because we experienced three wars in our lifetime and that experience really made us miss something called peace.

It would do politicians well to take note of their lyrics, as these are natural politicians whose music embodies the spirit of diplomacy.

‘CultureShock’ is the first ever all-Palestinian rock band. It is a far cry from traditional Palestinian music, and to top it off, their lyrics are in English.

On so many levels it was this insane band that came to shock Palestinian culture, which is why we’re called ‘CultureShock,” explains Amira Dibsy, a singer with the band.

Their songs resonate, touching on real issues faced by real people: the occupation, the kids working in Kalandia [a refugee camp near Jerusalem], for instance on the check point, etc.

Maybe somebody will hear it, [somebody] that can do something about those kids”, says Suleiman Harb, CultureShock’s rapper.

Lowkey is a hip-hop artist with a British father, Iraqi mother and strong views.

Ultimately I believe there’s one line between human beings. It’s a line between those who believe in the equality of all and those who believe in the supremacy of some,” he says.

His message is political, as he believes the music can help to touch those who are far from real politics.

I think music can reach people that don’t really have the patience or the necessary context to sit down and watch a political program,” says Lowkey.

With the same intention of reaching out people with their music four Iraqis from the band UTN1 got together back in 1999. It was a time when no one in Baghdad would have thought of forming a rock band, but they have been climbing the charts ever since.

In the Arab world, they’re not used to listening to the guitars with that tone and that aggressivity [sic], but it was something we really wanted to do for a long time, the style that we do in English, but with Arabic lyrics,” says Hassan Ali Al-Falluji.

The reach of this new “Arab League” is potentially greater than the former one that sits in Cairo, and its impact is just as important.

It’s just hip-hop done by Arabs,” says Lowkey. “It’s not the Arabs that need to hear what these guys are saying, the world needs to hear.”

to see the interview click on the link below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D–eP-jMkTo

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