hip-hop ain’t dead 6: salome mc, iran & malek khemiri, armada bizerta, tunisia [en]

7 Jan

Salome MC, Tehran, Iran, 27 years

Salome MC is the first female rapper in Iran, where women are forbidden to perform solo. She is recording in her home studio. She earned the money for the equipment by giving English lessons. Salome MC is a graffiti and textile design artist. One of the few rappers to criticize the regime living in Iran. Image

King is drunk, elder is drunk, governor is drunk, com
The destiny of the country us out of our hands nowI got things to say that are stuck in my throat like a ‘haraam bite’
Like the temporary marriages of the officials, hidden behind the curtains Like a political prisoner in solitary confinementWhat I am going to say is suicidal, whether concrete or abstract
I haven’t see the revolution, but my rap is revolutionary
This pen is my weapon, and I got my burial shroud in my backpack
Do not laugh. I have something to lose. I’m an ordinary girl …
Have you ever put a camera under your hijab to record the truth?
Sometimes we have to risk to lose our freedom to protect freedom
To protect our liberty and the meaning of existence
Country – a ship, the events is the sea, but a dictatorship – the dust
The captain is the justice.


I started listening to a turkish immigrant rap from Germany when I was 12, and that is how I realized I can turn my poetry which I have been writing into a rhythmic recitation. I did not actually record anything till I was 18 though. It was with Hichkas, one of the pioneers of Iranian Hip Hop that I stepped into a studio for the first time and recorded. So I record everything myself, and get them mixed and mastered by friends. It is usually hard to tell people what I do in my free time, especially as a female.

I don’t think hip-hop had a big role in Iranian Uprising, say 3 years ago, during 2009 elections. Though we were talking about change, but hip-hop in Iran is still yet to reach the average person. I think that is also true for the Arab Spring. So yeah it is correct that eventually what rappers say as the part of community usually reflects the general opinion, but it would be too soon to say hip hop is such a movement in the region that would sparkle a protest. That would be great, we all are inspired by black movement in America and we know the role hip hop in it. But it is not there yet. Meanwhile we should try to spread the word as much as possible, raise awareness and consciousness, and encourage people.

I believe that the Arab Spring, the music also influenced indirectly. But Arab rappers do best represent public opinion. By itself, the music can not make a revolution, but we can disseminate accurate information, to call the citizens to be responsible, to inspire young people.

The Iranian Uprising was the first time the regime saw a concrete proof of people’s rage against them that they could not pin it on foreign sources. Second, the people who protested were all conscious of the violation of their basic human right, censorship, lack of freedom of speech etc. but we did not have a considerable amount of people who were only conscious of their survival economically. Which is normal.  Regarding the Arab Spring, we in Iran are watching and getting inspired. 

Malek Khemiri, Armada Bizerta Bizerte, Tunisia, 26 years

Apart from doing hip-hop Malek makes documentaries, helps to organize street poetry festivals and is interested in implementing in Tunisia occupation of public space for cultural projects. He returned to Tunisia after studying in Toulouse. There he was lacking the sea and such a view from the roof-top in his native Bizerte. 
 
Fuck the industry Image
Independent I say fuck the industry
I live my life like a militant melody
Free your art from producer slavery
They look at as like forest chopping all the trees
*****
Love to Tunisia is in my microphone 
The underground is my philosophy
Armada is a mission
Money cannot substitute the passion
Photographers and graffiti artists
Feel the life in the heart
Let it burn and flame
But it is worth something
Only when you can wake up your sleeping comrades

For me, hip-hop is just a way so spread the messages. I listened to different music – Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. Ten years ago, when he lived in a small town near Bizerte, a friend started writing hip- hop, telling about the problems of our town, criticizing the local authorities. He was arrested, after some time then released. It was a small, but a revolution. So I realized that I could give voice to my poetry.

Official politics is a myth. Even when we share ideas of a certain political party, we never agreed to perform at their concerts. Art must resist the politicians, to uncover their falsity, and foresee the future. This made the Arab hip-hop so powerful. Our first track back in 2005 was called “The Revolution.” On the eve of the protests when people still had doubts we encouraged them to dare and go to the street, in the second verse we talked about the reforms, in the third that the revolution would divide the people. We saw the revolution as a dream which would never come true. A year before Ben Ali was overthrown, we wrote the song “Dream”. It was telling about a day when we wake up in another country without a dictator, and repression. Fortunately, we did record this piece in the studio, because the real revolution is still a dream.

The genius result of the uprising is democratization of courage. Before, only the elite was not

afraid. During the revolution a common Tunisian had a chance to feel as a hero. Our country was a French colony, then for another 50 years it was a dictatorship. Tunisians were constantly injected fear. The wall of fear has fallen, and we little by little we clean our blood.

The problem is the same mentality, the same system of education, the same corruption, the same control of Tunisia by the oligarchs. While people are dragged into conversation about Salafists they do not mentioned how our country is being stolen. For example, probably there is nobody beside Armada singing how Mafia exports cultural and historical entities from this land where once Carthage stood. 

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One Response to “hip-hop ain’t dead 6: salome mc, iran & malek khemiri, armada bizerta, tunisia [en]”

  1. We were not able to find your contact details on your blog so had to comment here.

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