Hamada Ben Amor who is better known by his stage name El General was born and raised in Sfax, Tunisia which is located at the North of the African Continent. Although his exact birth date is not clearly stated throughout any public forum published an interview published about him in Times magazine written by Vivienne Walt recalls him being 21 at the time of the interview in 2011, which would now make him around 25 years old. The Arabic rapper was brought up in a household consisting of 4 children he being the youngest of three boys and one girl, and of course his mother and father. El General, was born into a fairly economically stable middle class family. His mother owned a bookstore and his father was a doctor.
That being said, he was not blind to the political corruption which thrived within his native country. He witnessed discrimination against the poor for the majority of his life and chose to speak out about it through song. At the age of 18 in 2008, Ben Amor began to formulate what became to be known as the anthem to the Jasmine Revolution within Tunisia in 2010. He claims to have written a precursor to the revolutionary anthem in 2008 and naming it “Sidi Rais,” or, “Mr.President,” which he later revamped and made into the revolutionary anthem “Rais Lebled,” or, ” President of the Republic,” in which he voices the failure of his regime and the countries downfall. As his popularity rose within his country, public offices, and most importantly Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, began to take notice of his music’s traction and message.
Within time, Ben Amor became victim to governmental censorship, which prohibited him from performing in live concert, releasing new music, or allowing commercial airplay within Tunisia. Although, his music was deprived of radio play within Tunisia, his music began to gain traction, and public support within Europe, primarily France. When Ben Amor decided to release a new single titled, ” Tunisia Our Country,” he was immediately taken into custody by government official who proceeded to take him to the capital and question him for hours on end. After word of his incarceration reached the Tunisian public a serge of protests took place in front of the detention center. After hearing word of this Zine El Abidine Ben Ali called off his arraignment, and set him free three days later.
After his release, and even after the Jasmine Revolution came to a close his song “Rais Lebled,” rang true for various other revolutions in close proximity to Tunisia. The song was adopted by Cairo within their very own revolution and they even went as far as inviting him to perform the song live in Tahrir square. To which he had to decline to on the basis that he could not travel due to issues with his Visa.
Finally, El General still reside within Tunisia, and continued to create politically driven songs after Ben Ali’s expulsion from office and his new found fame in Cairo. Having written “Vive Tunisie,” and “Take Care of Tunisia,” which reflect his wishes for the new order within the government.
Walt,Vivienne. “El General and the Rap Anthem of the Mideast Revolution.” Time Magazine. Time Magazine, 15 Feb. 2011.
Web. 7 March 2015.