Sunday, December 14, 2008

Live Show -- DAM at Scoot Inn

Thirty years after hip-hop began in the streets of New York, it has become the soundtrack for youthful discontent worldwide. As one of the members of DAM, a rap group from the Palestinian city of Lod, declared: “We wrote these songs for the ghettos all over the world: the ghettos in Asia, in Europe, in Palestine and the U.S.”

DAM, one of the biggest names in Arabic rap, made their first appearance in Texas at Scoot Inn on Thursday. Fresh off an intercontinental flight, they gave a brief but energetic performance to an enthusiastic crowd of around 100.

DAM is made up of three Palestinian rappers — Tamer Nafer, his younger brother Suhell and their childhood friend Mahmoud Jreri. Their music is a multicultural mix — Arabic lyrics with rapid-fire American-inspired flows over sample-heavy Middle-Eastern sounding beats. Think Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin” in Arabic. Since being founded in 1999, they’ve been on the forefront of a growing Palestinian rap scene.

The crowd was a mix of Arabic speakers familiar with the group and merely curious non-Arabic speakers. And despite rapping in Arabic, DAM did a good job of involving the English-speaking section. Tamer talked to the audience in English between songs as well as free-styling over more familiar beats like Busta Rhymes “Touch It.” Hip-hop became a bridge between different cultures, and by the end of the show, the whole crowd was chanting for them to do an encore.

They saved their biggest and most controversial song for the finale: “Min Irhabi” (Who’s The Terrorist). It’s music with a message - DAM’s hope is that sympathy for the Palestinian cause will follow appreciation for their music. Social criticism has always inspired great music, and when DAM talked about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the anger was palpable.

DAM -- Min Irhabi

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