This essay approaches the phenomenon of Arab rap music as an emergent form of cultural and communal intelligibility and solidarity; its simultaneous influence on and indebtedness to global hip-hop and youth cultural movements has transformed it into an increasingly transnational collaborative project, bringing together a heterogeneous array of artists despite their dispersed geopolitical locations. The essay sheds light on the preoccupations of the diverse national rap movements across the Arab world and also investigates the role that rap music played in the Arab uprisings. It examines in particular the Tunisian rap scene and the crucial role that El Général’s song “Rais Lebled” played in capturing and articulating the mass discontent Tunisians had with Ben Ali’s authoritarian regime. This essay concludes that rap music (along with other forms of artistic creativity) helped to foster a culture of dissidence and defiance termed collaborative revolutionism on which hinged the popular uprising that has shaken Tunisia and the entire region since 17 December 2010.
Nouri Gana; Rap and Revolt in the Arab World. Social Text 1 December 2012; 30 (4 (113)): 25–53. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1725784
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