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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.