Friday, March 31, 2006

Rapping in Akko

Mahmoud is a rapper, plain and simple. In style, dress, ability and mood. The boy's got it goin' on.

I met Mahmoud in Akko, a small town in the North of Israel that was once controlled, at various points in history, by Alexander The Great, The Egyptians and the Romans.

Mahmoud lives in The Old City of Akko a fortress of stone walls that surround the entire town that were built by Ahmed Pasha al-Jazzar in 1799. I met Mahmoud by chance as a friend of mine, Jamal, who also lives in Akko was walking me back from the train station. Jamal told Mahmoud to come by his house later on in the evening. At about 12am, Mahmoud showed up and he and I got into a long discussion about "Old School" Rap which included; Public Enemy, KRS One, Grand-Master Flash (you can see from my tastes that I'm ancient.), and so on.

Our conversation shifted however to a more serious tone after awhile. We both spoke of our frustration and anger over the occupation. Mahmoud sat in a chair pouring over his anger at how the US and Europe didn't care for what is going on in Palestine.

"If 60 Palestinians get killed, its okay. They are not real people they are dogs. This is the thinking of Bush and the others in the EU. But if one Israeli dies, then the whole World must know of this thing! Where is the justice? Where is the human rights?!"

Mahmoud felt that rap was his best way of channeling his anger at the occupation. And it seems, from what I could gather, that he is making an impact overseas in Europe, but not in the United States: "I have no interests in going to America. True the Europeans are doing a bad job, but America is the one who is creating far more problems for Arabs, and especially Muslims, everywhere."

I sat listening to him. His deep insight into how the situation here really is. What it might take to change things to resolve the conflict and his hopes for the future. As I listened, I began to think about the current crop of rap artist that are out there. Not all of them, but the ones that occupy the Billboard top 100 and such. You know who I'm talking about; 50 cent, G-Unit, Little John (Then again, maybe you don't know whom I'm talking about.) I thought about how much I missed the old rhymes of Public Enemy on the cut; "FIGHT THE POWER"

Elvis was a hero to most
but he never meant shit too me.
You see he's straight up racist
That sucker was simple and plain.
Motha' fuck him and John Wayne!
'Cause I'm black and I'm proud
I'm ready, I'm hyped 'cause I'm amped.
Most of my hero's don't appear on no stamp!

I thought back to when rappers had something to say, instead of talking about; "Bling-Bling" or "Junk in the trunk."

Then I looked at Mahmoud. This determined, intelligent, and deep Palestinian brotha' whose got it goin' on tight!

"Some day I hope my rhymes can make people think about what's going on in this land of ours."

Rest assured brotha' they will. They will.


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