We are the only choice…

Video for British Palestinian emcee, Shadia Mansour’s, song: “لازم نتغير” (We have to change) ft. Omar Offendum

Hip hop is the ideal platform for social commentary. When experiences are contextualized into phrases syncopated atop equally gut- wrenching beats, hip hop has the capacity to emit just what the heart cannot say for itself. Shadia Mansour has captured my attention because she is so eloquently able to embody truth, genuinity and power. At first glance, she comes across as a passive, unsuspecting Palestinian lay woman with her subtle, whisper- tone, but once she wipes her hands and cocks her head to the side she smacks like a quiet storm. She is one of the most venom- spitting, hard- hitting emcees I have come across to date. Her role as a hip hop artist is to be politically provocative. Mansour, as demonstrated in the song, “لازم نتغير” (We have to change), does not shy away from addressing human indecencies, suffocating authoritarianism, economic and political fractures, and the like.

Mansour demonstrates in the chorus that ameliorating global unrest is the responsibility of both those at the top and those considered common folk. As Mansour implies, humankind and effectually the world, is heading down a slippery slope and the only hope of slowing this decline and/ or reversing it altogether is for man to invoke self- change. The only destiny is Change.

The earth is moving anti-Clockwise

and the world is losing its balance

Tell me, where else is there for us to go

We have to change

Shadia’s message is through and through about activism for collective well- being. Placing local instability at the centerfolds of her message, she pins listeners down, giving them no other option than to swallow the truth.

The blood of Arabs is still flowing but nobody ever cares

And this our problem…

Speaking from the context of chaos in the Palestinian world, she exclaims that the problems afflicting the region are the people’s and the people’s alone. She refuses to chalk up sole responsibility to those situated in institutionalized power positions. Stopping blood- flow begins once the Arabs themselves recognize their innate power and agency to do so. The verse below expresses how frustration, anger, and societal fatigue can be channeled in a positive and potent manner.

Stop being selfish

Think of your brother

Think of your father

And remember those who speak like you

So that your children and grandchildren can walk in your shade

And if ever you feel your chest is constricting

Just take a deep breath my brother…

Stand Up & CHANGE.

Shadia Mansour takes the idea of hip hop artist as change agent to a completely different level. She has demonstrated in “لازم نتغير” (We have to change), and several of her other works, of the ability for anyone to become the physical embodiment of change. I wonder how many more songs or  how many more bodies slain it will take for us listeners awaken to the necessity to become the change we wish to see in our world. “We no longer have a choice…”

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