The Story of a Raptivst: Who Can Stop Me?

Although often marginalized and underappreciated, Yukka Shahin demonstrates that female Egyptian Hip-Hop artists are not a dying breed. The 26-year-old began rapping in 2010, around 18 years old, in the rap multicultural center of Alexandria, Egypt. Her early works served as a platform for self-discovery and expression, allowing herself to discuss issues concerning her personal life, but was soon overshadowed by the sometimes chaotic atmosphere she endured during the highly political Arab Spring. The Arab Spring is described as being “a revolutionary wave of both violent and non-violent demonstrations, protests, riots, coups, foreign interventions, and civil wars in North Africa and the Middle East that began on the 17th of December 2010…with the Tunisian Revolution.” The Arab Spring served as a catalyst for the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, commonly known as the Egyptian Crisis. The anti-government rallies presented themselves throughout Alexandria, where she resides, and Suez predominantly. Her personal involvement the tense and politicized environment that occurred before, during, and after the constraints of the crisis itself, as well as her involvement in support of the feminist movement (“highlighting the role of women in society and advocating for women’s rights”), inspired Shahin’s transition into the realm of raptivism. Continue reading “The Story of a Raptivst: Who Can Stop Me?”

MC Amin’s Call for a Third Egyptian Revolution

MC Amin, an Egyptian rapper from Mansoura, Egypt, grew in popularity since rap emerged in the country in the early 2000s and remains one of the most popular Egyptian rappers today. His discography is largely political in nature and echoes sentiments felt by youth living not only in Egypt before, during, and after former president Mubarak’s regime, the Arab Spring, as well as under current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Egypt has some of the highest rates of youth unemployment. The al-Sisi administration has used military, police, and judicial power to control the media, enacted legislation to censor civil society, and human rights abuses. Inflation, poverty, and youth unemployment rates are at an all time high.

Continue reading “MC Amin’s Call for a Third Egyptian Revolution”

RevRecords; Straight Outta Alexandria

Inspired, namely, by American hip-hop icons (Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem, 2Pac, Biggie, Snoop Dogg, N.W.A, Nas, Jay-Z for example) and the fathers of Egyptian popular music (Shekh Emam, Sayed Darwish, Mohamed Mounira), Revolution Records is an Alexandrian organization that sparked in 2006 as a coalition effort with that of Danish RAPOLITICS. Their mission statement is to provide a free space, equipment, workshops, and managerial technical support for amateur Arab rappers to ignite their potential and contribute to local, regional, and international discourse about cultural and political dilemmas occurring throughout the Arabian peninsula and Northern Africa. Continue reading “RevRecords; Straight Outta Alexandria”

Egyptian Flows

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cXFGsJHq78

Born in Mansoura City of Egypt, Ahmad Amin AKA MC Amin AKA El- General is a member of the record label Arab League. He grew up analyzing the lyrics of the late great 2pac and began to rap at an early age. In 2004, MC Amin talents started to become recognized and he gained several gigs within Mansoura. In 2006 he created two bands: Black Attack and the Arab Rap Soldiers. The idea was that he wanted to make his own music and mix his voices to attract more listeners. He has an east coast punch line type of style when it comes to his raps. His punchlines are truly aggressive. What makes MC Amin stand out is his voice for the Arab people. Continue reading “Egyptian Flows”

Myam Mahmoud: Egypt’s First Veiled Rapper

Myam Mahmoud is an Egyptian rap artist, writer and women’s activist from Giza, Egypt. She initially gained popularity as a semi finalist on Arabs Got Talent in 2013 at the age of 18, becoming known as Egypt’s first veiled rapper. Her hard-hitting lyrics condemn issues faced by Egyptian women, especially the different social and educational standards for women compared to men, sexual harassment and victim-blaming. Continue reading “Myam Mahmoud: Egypt’s First Veiled Rapper”

One Thousand and One Nights to Four Arabian Knightz

Stemming from Cairo, Egypt’s Hip-Hop scene coalesces the rhythmic vibrations of the Oud and melodic traditional Egyptian ‘Uffātah Flute with inventive verses that entail life experience in their Arab community. The Arabian Knightz are an Arab rap group comprised of four well versed MCs: Rush (Karim Adel), Sphinx (Hesham Abed), and E-Money (Ehab Adel). Famous for producing music that engages Egyptian society and envokes Egyptian struggles, namely the 2011 Egyptian revolution that served as the context for their most popular song “Rebel”, Continue reading “One Thousand and One Nights to Four Arabian Knightz”

Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati

by Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Mwanzia Koster

Now available in paperback & on Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Hip-Hop-Social-Change-Africa/dp/1498505805

This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.

Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati

by Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Mwanzia Koster

Now available in paperback & on Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Hip-Hop-Social-Change-Africa/dp/1498505805

This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.

Continue reading “Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati”

Injustice is Everywhere, so Stand-Up: Shadia Mansour

Shadia Mansour is a hip-hop artist who raps in Arabic. Many called her the “first lady of Arabic hip-hop,” which mean she is breaking down barriers for a female in the Middle East. Mansour is from Palestine and majority of the population there is Sunni Islam. She is a political figure in the Middle East. Mansour is a young voice that bridging art and activism. She grew up listening to American rappers like KRS-One. She wanted to relate the injustice and oppression expressed that she heard in American hip-hop to the experiences of the Palestinian people. In her interview with Cultures of X Resistance Network, she stated: “We’ve got police brutality going on right here in Palestine.” Her song that is called Sho Eli Saar explains her feeling for the police in Palestine.

Continue reading “Injustice is Everywhere, so Stand-Up: Shadia Mansour”

Arabian Knightz: Music Review

The Arabian Knightz, is a group composed of 3 rappers who rose to fame after releasing a song named, “Rebel,” immediately after the internet censorship laws within Egypt were retrieved following the 2011 revolution. The song samples Lauryn Hill’s song, “I Find it Hard to Say.” While the chorus, consisting of Hill’s vocals is deliberated in English, the rest of the sing is not. But the translation of said lyrics, is set to initiate a sense of upheaval within Egypt’s society; more or less a message of nonconformity rather than complete obscurity.

Another song, which may not be as relevant or as accepted by U.S. media outlets is the song, “Prisoner” which is portrayed by the Arabian Knightz and features a verse  by Shadia Mansour. The song rhymes perfectly, and I was amazed by how well they rappers managed to use word-play to convey their messages. Their lyricism is astounding, and the beat is fairly well produced.

Although, I found the song to be very insightful in terms of middle-eastern issues, and their sentiments to Americans, I am very aware that the lyrics within the music may make Americans a bit uncomfortable, some may even find them offensive. But, in all reality perspective is key.

The lyrics within “Prisoner” is forged by both English and Arabic rap verses, and choruses. The first verse of the song which is rapped by Rush, is a criticism of how the U.S. media portrays middle-eastern affairs and their mis-characterizations of their citizens. In doing so, he turns ti criticize the president for making decisions regarding their countries without actually having any idea of what’s actually going on in there.

E-Money goes on to infer that due to the war their is no unity within their country. He also infers that some of their ideals as to what independence resembles would rather be cast away as acts of terrorism than ideals of liberty. Also, the ideal that this war is based off of nothing but basic opportunism.

As stated before, perspective is key. As I view this song as a window into a world I’ve never known, others will surely view it as a window to something they did not want to know and fear.

Arabian Knightz Biography

The Arabian Knightz is a rap group consisting of three members. Karim Adel whose stage name is Rush, Hesham Abed whose stage name is Sphinx, and Ehab Adel whose stage name is E-money. The group originated in Cairo, Egypt, and was created in 2005. They rose to fame after having released their single,” Rebel,” immediately after the internet censorship measure were lifted after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. The song samples Lauryn Hill’s son, “I Find It Hard To Say,” from her 2002 unplugged performance on MTV as the chorus. The song is set to inspire an uprising against systematic oppression within Egyptian culture and its inhabitants.

As stated before, The Arabian Knightz released “Rebel” ft Lauryn Hill immediately after internet censorship was lifted in Egypt. As a result it became the first track to be released during to aftermath of the censorship. As a result, the single gained recognition within the country. After the LP was released, The Arabian Knightz fame increased to a commercialized level, expanding toward the United States.

Following the release of their album, The Arabian Knightz were capable of leaving their mark on the United State’s music market, even if just a scratch. They gained a good amount of traction within the States, having been able to reach Itunes’ top 200 chart and gaining attention from U.S. media sources. One major U.S. newspaper the Washington Post, and the U.K’s BBC acknowledged the groups message and struggle for liberation.

It is no surprise that the music gained as much traction as it did within the U.S. seeing as how the group had been previously and consequently coached by such American producers as Fred Wreck, 4th Disciple, and Cilvaringz. As a result, adopting what American audiences deem as acceptable to their musical tastes.

In addition, certain media sources within their own country have drawn similarities between The Arabian Knightz, Cypress Hill, and N.W.A. Which places them up pretty high in terms of rap mogul statuses.