Friday, November 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Hip hop, graffiti in Lebanon tag a nation’s woes

Mideast Lebanon Hip Hop Dissent

In this Monday, July 7, 2014, photo, Filipino Syrian rapper Nasser Shorbaji, 29, center, and Lebanese Marwan Alameh, 32, second right, laugh during a live broadcast of their show 'Bar Fight' at Radio Beirut, in Lebanon. The duo are among a host of Lebanese graffiti artists and rappers trying to re-engage disaffected youth in a debate about the country’s latest wave of political turmoil and the woes of the greater Middle East. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

By
From page A5 | August 18, 2014 |

BEIRUT — In a red-lit bar in Beirut, Nasser Shorbaji and Marwan Alameh try not to knock the microphones over while laughing during the broadcast of their weekly radio show.

Moments later, they turn more somber as they introduce a segment on Palestinian hip hop, discussing the most recent outbreak of war on Gaza. Heads nod in the packed bar to the rhymes of Sati, a Palestinian rapper.

The duo are among a host of Lebanese graffiti artists and rappers trying to re-engage disaffected youth in a debate about the country’s latest wave of political turmoil and the woes of the greater Middle East.

“People don’t want to be preached to. So we’re just doing a fun thing in order to put out serious issues,” Alameh said.

One example is Shorbaji’s latest music video to his song “O.P.P,” which takes its title from the 1991 hit by U.S. hip hop group Naughty By Nature. Shorbaji’s version focuses on a suicide bomber working as a bank clerk who thinks through whether or not to carry out an attack on his workplace.

Another is rapper and graffiti artist Omar Kabbani, 31, who runs Ashekman, a rap, graffiti and urban clothing outfit with his brother Mohamed.

“We consider ourselves to be the eight o’clock news when we go out to do graffiti,” Kabbani said. “They say I was born with a microphone and my twin brother with a spray can.”

While Kabbani is wary of calling Ashekman’s work political, the group’s music and street art does not avoid Lebanese society’s many conflicts. Ashekman’s “Grendizer,” a giant war robot from anime cartoons the group uses in its designs, is often used by Ashekman to mock what they see as mindless obedience to religious and political factions – and their militias – in Lebanon’s polarized political landscape.

“Many people that were warlords in Lebanon are now ruling the country,” he says, referring to leaders in Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990, who have gone on to prominent political careers.

In its song “Deyman Ijebeh,” Arabic for “Always Positive,” Ashekman makes fun of what they see as attempts by Lebanese to appear unperturbed by their country’s instability.

“They (leaders) are fighting over who will rule the Banana Republic,” Ashekman raps.

Ashekman’s latest graffiti mural appeared in response to the recent spate of suicide bombings that shook Lebanon. The mural features the popular 1980s video game character Bomberman running with a cartoon-like bomb, fuse lit, in his hands. The character skips past the word “Wanted,” written in Arabic. Kabbani says it is a reference to what Ashekman feels is Lebanese politicians’ manipulation of the threat of terrorism for greater personal power and to cow their rivals.

Jackson Allers, an American Beirut-based journalist who specializes in Arab hip hop, said artists in the country are just beginning to discover how much power they have.

“Their influence is increasing,” he said. “They’ve turned the critical gaze of youth inward, at their own peer group, which I would say is positive.”

Ali Rafei, 28, a graffiti and street artist from Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city and center of Sunni conservative culture, said his home city has largely been left to fend for itself. Since the outbreak of a civil war in neighboring Syria, Tripoli has seen fighting between Sunni militants and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Rafei said urban decay in his city has provided ample space for his street paintings to be seen and appreciated.

“The emptiness that’s there pushes you to create and change visual scenery, hoping to change (locals’) views and relax the tension there,” he said. People “would prefer a drawing with colors and some meaning to them than a gray wall with pictures of politicians that do nothing for them.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Solano Turkey Trot draws 2,600 to college

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Solano College student body to mark World AIDS Day

By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: A3

 
Il Fiorello schedules olive milling day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Movies just another course on Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Early Black Friday shoppers take advantage of deals

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Eagle Scout project adds floating docks at Rockville Park

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

‘Guardian angel,’ community join to give man home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US celebrates Thanksgiving with parades, turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Tons of marijuana seized in Central California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

 
Gorilla death prompts San Francisco Zoo changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Health agents still unpaid after plan’s rollout

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
California Burger King employee finds $100,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

At 1 month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Families asked to host visitors for pope’s US trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Researchers discover ‘pre-cancers’ in blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
35 arrested in Oakland after protest march

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

A glance at Ferguson: Then, now and the future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
For some, location of Brown’s hands irrelevant

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Ferguson gives thanks after a quiet night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Colorado mastodon bones show ancient warmer Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Queen of crime writing PD James dies aged 94

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Taliban attack rocks upscale Kabul district

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Small quake rattles California wine country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Poor health is no excuse for not behaving like a caring person

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscope for Nov. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview: Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Prison theater transforms Colombian inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Singer John Mayer among ‘Late Late Show’ subs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ doesn’t work

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

Review: ‘Madagascar’ spin-off hatches family fun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Reading Harry Potter gives clues to brain activity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Talking songs with She & Him

By Kim Durbin | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Nov. 28, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

 
Cosby testimony describes accuser’s spiked story

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

College notebook: Many happy returns for Arizona’s Bondurant

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Sherman’s big night leads Seattle past 49ers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

Rookie quarterback Carr is Raiders’ silver lining

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
US cities urged to keep price tags down for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Johnson shines in Detroit’s 34-17 win over Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Signups for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

No. 9 UCLA must overcome Stanford for Pac-12 title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Kia’s ‘Soulful’ first electric car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Automakers aim to drive away car computer hackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Google’s latest: A spoon that steadies tremors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

3 Reasons holiday shoppers will spend cautiously

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Deanna L. Haines

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Esther Ringler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9