Saturday, January 31, 2015
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 County confirms 1st local case of measles

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A1

 
SPCA begins caring for more than 100 rescued dogs

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Top workers, top students – and succulent crab

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Armijo students savor catered Fuddruckers lunch

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Life sentence in 2011 execution-style killing

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

Partial Fairfield freeway road closure starts Monday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
DUI patrols set for Super Bowl Sunday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Fairfield police log: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Another trip to Texas reminds me how lucky I am

By Murray Bass | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

Man charged in California family’s deaths will be own lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Yosemite park fee hikes coming in March

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
San Francisco coroner says human remains are from 1 man

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

PG&E releases thousands of emails with state regulators

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Judge expresses doubt about constitutionality of no-fly list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

French fracture laid bare as 8-year-old praises terrorists

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Africans open new front in war on terror to fight Boko Haram

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US mulls Middle East-North Africa category for 2020 Census

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Balloon crew makes history crossing Pacific Ocean

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Murder trial begins 35 years after 6-year-old vanished in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Judge: Funeral home wrongly sold Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Jordan awaits proof hostage is alive after swap deadline

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
New lottery tickets come with a side of bacon – scent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Opinion

 
GOP should plan for post-Obamacare world

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A8

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 31, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Solano College news makes me sick

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 31, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 31, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Jan. 31, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

 
My recently widowed mother is already thinking about re-marrying

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

Five ways 3D-printed food will change the way we eat

By The Washington Post | From Page: B10

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Miranda Lambert leads ACM Awards with 8 nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Shakira gives birth to 2nd baby with Spanish football star

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Ex-rap mogul ‘Suge’ Knight arrested in deadly hit-and-run

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

List: 10 Super Bowl ads you’ll be talking about

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Rod McKuen, mega-selling poet and performer, dies at 81

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

LeBron returns, Love, Irving team for 44, as Cavs top Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mustangs ride away from Indian’s home court with 66-60 victory

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Hayward, Utah Jazz upset Golden State Warriors 110-100

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Laird leads as Tiger shoots 82 and misses the cut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Seau, Warner, Pace first-time Hall eligibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Djokovic beats Wawrinka to reach fifth Australian Open final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

N.H. Speedway general manager faces lewdness charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kings’ Cousins to replace Kobe Bryant in All-Star game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita has brain disorder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ko takes lead at LPGA opener, closes in on golf history

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Carroll says decision is Sherman’s if baby arrives early

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

NFL’s Goodell seeks to look past ‘tough year,’ to future

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 31, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

US consumer confidence at highest level in a decade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Companies steering clear of Super Bowl name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Anthony Neal Hunley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Frank Z. Perez

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Joe Lambert Robinson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Otilia (Tela) Quinn

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Danica Gojkovich Ryder

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
WillIiam “Bill” Hunter

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Garry A. Britton

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anneliese Edith (Luckner) Fraser

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 1/31/2015

Quirky add-ons a common feature of celebrity homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2

5 ways to make a kitchen more germ-free

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.66 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Real estate transactions for Jan. 31, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3