Continued from Part 1
Is hip-hop popular in Afghanistan?
Hip-hop has reached Afghanistan. There are even some Afghan rappers that have surfaced both here and abroad. Hip hop is visible not only in terms of music also in fashion, I am starting to see young boys here in Afghanistan sag their pants and pick up on some Western dance moves.
What engages folks in the Arab world as it relates to the culture?
Hip-hop anywhere is from the streets it reflects the dirt, grime and strife of urban life. Regardless of what language you speak or what God you pray to every culture feels the beats of the street and that’s why hip-hop has reached the ears of youth across the Arab world, its real, its raw and the beats are infectious. Also, if you think about it hip-hop can be seen as an oral history and when patched together over time it resembles an epic tale, like the Illiad or 1001 Arabian nights. Hip-hop connects to Arab culture because it bears great similarities to the tradition of oral history and story telling that is common throughout the region.
What Americans figures are most popular with folks right now in Afghanistan and/or the Middle East?
Barack Obama is on fire: the world is watching him. I just left Egypt and I had friends there that were desperate for Obama gear. Here in Afghanistan too, people everywhere are talking about him.
Hip-hop is seen, in the mainstream—especially within the major nongovernmental organizations—as hyper-aggressive, misogynistic and insignificant. But isn’t hip-hop the dominant voice of young people globally?
Hip-hop has definite potential to be the dominant voice of young people globally. But unfortunately it is the misogynistic, aggressive and insignificant candy rap that has eclipsed the real voice of kids across the globe. It’s been far too long that hip-hop has been a sleeping giant- dormant amidst the vacant and vain top-forty rubbish. Its time for a hip-hop renaissance.
What’s the latest on your project?
Our project Alhamdulillah is moving forward rapidly. Here in Afghanistan the size of the bureaucracy is astounding, we have spent a great deal of time getting our org registered in all of the appropriate ministries, but are just about finished. I recently found the perfect location for our kids, which I am ecstatic about. Once we lock down a spot we will begin furnishing it, hiring staff and filling it with the sticky fingers and happy screams of little kids. We hope that we can officially open our doors by the end of March, inshallah.
How can people, if interested, find more information or donate to omeid?
For more information please visit our website. You can donate safely online there, and I greatly encourage people to sign up for the monthly billing, any amount, even 1$ each month will greatly impact these children’s futures. For those who prefer not to make online donations, our address is: P.O. Box 1124, Livermore, CA, 94550
How do you see hip-hop serving, if at all, as a connector between people in the U.S. and abroad?
For those separated by oceans and borders hip-hop is the bridge connecting people in the U.S. and abroad, I think it’s a perfect dialect for strangers to engage in discourse that in an otherwise formal atmosphere might become heated or hyper-sensitive. With hip-hop as a backdrop strangers can get to know one another and touch on serious issues with out the awkward face-to-face Q & A sessions.
Pashtun language hip-hop music