Saturday, 24 November 2012

Shadia Mansour and the Musical Intifada

Shadia Mansour - the 'First Lady of Arabic Hip Hop'
Have you heard of Shadia Mansour? If you haven't, then you need to!

Mansour, a British Palestinian rapper, is one of the shining examples of a new generation of politically conscious hip hop artists, whose lyrics focus on the Middle East, and Palestine in particular.

Along with other artists such as Lowkey, Akala and Logic, Mansour is part of a musical uprising, or resistance, speaking out against the Israeli occupation and firmly putting Palestine on the map by reasserting its existence.

Mansour was born in London and comes from a family of musicians and activists - the late Juliano Mer-Khamis was her cousin - and grew up singing classical Arab protest songs.

When she hit her teens, Mansour turned to hip hop, collaborating with other like-minded artists and performing in the traditional Palestinian thawb (traditional ankle-length dress, with embroidery on the front).

Mansour often performs in the Palestinian Thawb
Her first single, Al Kuffiyeh Arabeyyeh, with rapper M-1 of Dead Prez, was a defiant, passionate response to learning that an American company had brought out a blue and white version of the iconic Palestinian garment, with stars of David on it:

Now these dogs are starting to wear it as a trend
No matter how they design it, no matter how they change its color
The keffiyeh is Arab, and it will stay Arab
The scarf, they want it
Our intellect, they want it
Our dignity, they want it
Everything that’s ours, they want it
We won’t be silent, we won’t allow it
It suits them to steal something that ain’t theirs and claim that it is

Mansour is a star on the ascent; having toured the US, UK and the Palestinian Territories with other artists such as Lowkey (British Iraqi MC and Activist), and being signed to Chuck D of Public Enemy's online label Slam Jamz.

She believes herself to be a 'messenger', speaking out against oppression and occupation. Cafe Palestine  thinks Mansour is a fantastic example of a talented Palestinian playing a vital role in the cultural resistance for Palestine.

Below are a couple of her tracks - Al Kuffiyeh Arabeyyeh with M-1 and Long Live Palestine 2, by Lowkey ft D.A.M. (Palestinian hip hop collective), The Narcicyst (Canadian Iraqi rapper) and Shadia Mansour.