Noisey presents Noisey Israel Palestine: Hip Hop in the Holy Land. This series directed by Mike Skinner of The Streets combines the talent and passion of musicians within the Israeli Palestine crisis. Combining social issues with something that connects the world creates a truly unique experience for viewers to educate themselves on these world issues with how they relate to music.
Episode One begins with Mike Skinner interviewing Tamer Nafar. He is a Palestinian living in Israel. Afar is the co-founder of DAM, or Da Arabian MCs. DAM was a huge breakthrough as the first Palestinian rap group to really hit mainstream media. From songs like “Mama I Fell In Love with a Jew” and “Who is the Terrorist?”, we have some hard hitting messages told with powerful music. It’s stated that rap music is forged on the edges of society. It’s a voice of the marginalized, the oppressed and those who don’t have as strong of a voice. This is why it’s such a powerful tool with social change and used often.
When discussing using music and art versus violent protests, Nafar finds it frustrating that it put him in a position as the musician taking the “moral high road” by protesting peacefully. He states furiously that this isn’t true, and relates to situations in Gaza where they can’t record in a studio because their homes are being sieged. Nafar takes it upon himself to emphasize that he’s just a voice in the movement, stating that he’s not afraid to share his opinions. Music is a powerful tool, and he wants to spread awareness of the severe issues happening within this crisis. By using music, he can relate his passion for music to his passion for fighting for social change with truly incredible results.
Check out Episode One with Tamer Nafar here.
Episode Two focuses on the journey of Ohad Cohen, once big in the Israeli rap scene. Recently, he has chosen to fully immerse himself in the ultra orthodox Jewish community, however is still working on new material. Mike begins by interviewing him about his faith and the obvious connection he has to it through his music. By emphasizing how his faith helps determine his moral standings, it is shown more clearly how he expresses his opinions through his music. When asked about musicians who have varying moral standings on issues that might differ from his, however have really good and well put together tracks his answer was interesting. “I appreciate the art.” Cohen says. This really hits hard, as although Cohen (and Nafar in episode one) uses his music to discuss social issues that he is facing, he can appreciate the art and passion that goes into making a song by an artist that he doesn’t necessarily agree with most things on.
With Cohen, we see how his faith affects his message within his music. His hip hop skills are incredible and flows so well that you cannot deny his ability as a musician. However his topics that he conveys in his work vary due to his faith and moral standings, which makes it so interesting.
Here is Episode Two of the video series:
Noisey really brought upon a new perspective when creating this series. It shows how voices aren’t always showcased in violence. Things like social media, technology, the written word and even as we see here music can be so influential in revolutions and social change.
You can see some of Tamer Nafar’s work here, as well as on the DAM official website.
You can see some of Ohad Cohen’s work here.