Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Iara Lee: Hip Hop as Global Resistance

"Fuck the police coming straight from the underground/ a young nigga's got it bad cause I'm brown/ and not the other color/ so police think/they have the authority/to kill a minority."

These lyrics spoken by Ice Cube, for instance, could just as easily have been uttered by DAM (Da Arab MCs), a Palestinian hip-hop trio forced to live as "Israeli Arabs" in an Israeli slum.

My current film, Cultures of Resistance (out Fall 2010), is an exploration of the variety of activism in a world plagued with war, oppression and poverty. I pay special attention to creative action, specifically, and in my travels throughout the Middle East I encountered a hip-hop reborn through artists like the Ramallah Underground and Shadia Mansour, both Palestinian, as well as London-based Iraqi rapper Lowkey (who are all part of a larger collective known as the Arab League of Hip Hop). Their flows cut deep against the tyranny of Israeli and US occupation of their lands as they call for equality for all people, and reaffirm their Arab identity despite brutal attempts at cultural erasure. The goal, Shadia said, was to tell the world that "Palestine is on the map," and always will remain so."

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