Playlist #6: Hip Hop

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This week, we aim to highlight the artists that are shaping the regional musical landscape through the powerful medium of rap, hip-hop, rhyme and social commentary.

Inspired by the hip-hop scene in America and the rich oral culture of Arabic poetry, the regional scene began growing since the 1990s in part due to bands like DAM, who were one of the first to rap in Arabic and use the language to shape a distinctive sound. 

Mirroring the struggles of black communities across the US, rap became a powerful tool to reshape and vocalise their struggles and contexts. Throughout the 2000s the genre’s popularity skyrocketed as it became an accessible and powerful medium for youths living in refugee camps, emerging female MCs and urban producers who were all keen to reshape music production by adding their powerful beats and sharp lyrics. 

Recent developments, such as the creation of Lebanon’s ‘The Arena’, revived the tradition of poets and poetry, rap battles and community audiences with a modern twist. This came hand in hand with the emergence of trap, a refreshed way in which this rich musical and lyrical production could be utilised.

What are MARSM Playlists?

Marsm’s weekly playlists take on the musical history, trends and upcoming productions from the Middle East and North African music scene. Each week focuses on a new theme, showcasing both underground and established artists – from the more dance-able to the most experimental – and everything in between.