Rappers take dissent to next level in Beirut

Rappers take dissent to next level in Beirut

BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Rappers take dissent to next level in Beirut

Lebanese hip-hop artist Nusrdeen Touffar performs during a concert. AFP Photo

Sitting on the fringes of upheaval in the Middle East, Lebanon’s capital Beirut has become the scene of experimental music-making by Khat Thaleth, a group of rappers  out to take the revolts that
started during the Arab Spring to the next level.

The collective has members from around the region, ranging from Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab uprising, to the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, and vocalizes the realities of a new generation carrying the baggage of the past.

Khat Thaleth literally means “Third Track,” a metaphor for an alternative take on the polarized societies and politics of the region, and a reference to the Hijaz Muslim pilgrimage railway which once connected the Arab world.

“We’re not doing rap. This is not the same as American or French music; it has to do with our culture, our history,” said Al Sayyed Darwish, a member of the Syrian trio LaTlateh.

The raw poetry of the young rappers has earned them a devoted audience since the start of the project in March 2012.

At a concert, fans say the artists get right to the heart of the issue. The Touffar duo from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley warn the audience not to be complacent about change the Arab revolution has brought.

“There are thieves making a living from the revolution, and other thieves waiting in line. The victory of the revolution takes two revolutions: One against the regime strangling freedom, another against those awaiting its victory to steal,” they blast.