Arab rappers you should hear

The Fareeq el Atrash band performing in Beirut. (Courtesy: Facebook)
Updated 12 August 2018
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Arab rappers you should hear

While the Arab world’s music scene is dominated by traditional oud-led music and mainstream pop, the region is also home to a number of talented hip-hop acts who have broken from tradition to forge their own style.

El Général

The Tunisian MC, whose real name is Hamada Ben Amor, was born and raised in Sfax. The rapper focuses mainly on politically charged lyrics — his song “Rais Lebled” has been described as the “anthem of the Jasmine Revolution.”

Shadia Mansour

Known as the first lady of Arabic hip-hop, Mansour, who’s been active on the scene since 2003, is a Palestinian-British MC who lyrics are fuelled by Middle Eastern politics. Rolling Stone Middle East recognized her for her “hardcore stance on Palestinian nationalism.”

Salah Edin

Dutch-Moroccan rapper Salah Edin, real name Abid Tounssi, is among the more seasoned artists on this list, with three studio albums, a demo, and a mixtape to his name. The 38-year-old, who is also an actor, is signed to Dutch label TopNotch.

Narcy

Iraqi-Canadian MC Yassin Alsalman’s family originally hail from Basra, but he grew up in Abu Dhabi and is now based in Canada. Narcy is something of a polymath — he’s an actor, a published author, and also taught a class at Concordia University: “Hip Hop: Past, Present, and Future.”

Ashekman

Lebanese street art and rap duo Mohammed and Omar Kabbani, known collectively as Ashekman, have taken the country’s capital Beirut by storm since the release of their debut album, “Ashekmanphobia” in 2011.

FareeQ el Atrash

Translating from Arabic to “The Deaf Team,” this Lebanese boasts three accomplished MCs — Edd Abbas, Nasser ‘Chyno’ Shorbaji, and Qarar, along with beatboxer Fayez ‘FZ’ Zouheiry and live accompaniment from John Nasr on bass and Fouad Afra on drums. Renowned for their high-energy live shows.


Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

Updated 16 July 2019
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Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

  • The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April
  • Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films

BEIRUT: Cliff divers used to competing in isolated spots have been leaping into the Mediterranean in bustling Beirut, the first time the Lebanese capital’s landmark Raouche Rock has hosted an international contest.
The towering rock, also known as Pigeons Rock, is an enduring symbol of a city where many other landmarks were destroyed by the 1975-90 civil war.
“Normally when we have cliffs like this, it is in the middle of nowhere. I have never been to a place with an amazing cliff right in the city center,” said Gary Hunt, a Briton who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April on El Nido island in the Philippines and winds up in Bilbao, Spain in September.
Hunt became the first diver in the series history to receive a perfect 10 score from each of the five judges at Sunday’s competition.
In the women’s contest, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, 27, scored her sixth consecutive win of this series.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you perform a dive. You still get up there 22 meters (72 feet) high and you still have all these negative emotions,” said Iffland, who has been diving since she was nine.
“To overcome that fear is something that I cannot express.”
Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films.
Daring Lebanese have leapt from the rock for generations. Some have also committed suicide from it.
Hundreds of spectators watched the competition, which ended on Sunday, from the adjacent rocks and promenade.
’Young again’
Among them was 63-year-old fisherman Mohamed Itani, who said he had jumped off the cliff 36 times over the years for fun. “It is beautiful,” said Itani as he watched the divers. “It makes me feel young again.”
Judges mark the divers on their take-off and entry to the water and number of twists, somersaults and position in the air.
Hunt, 35, said he used to count to three just before he jumped but now just takes two breaths: one when he lifts his arms up and one when he leaps.
“There are three seconds in that air where you are just in total control. Your brain and your body decide what you do and you are completely free,” he said.
Itani described a similar feeling. “You’re like an eagle in the air,” he said.