Words, words and more words (in Hip-Hop tunes)

I could claim that the events of 24 and 25 March 2011 on the Duwwar were a milestone in post-Arab revolutions Jordan. Not merely because of the violence used to end the gathering (for that has happened and continues to happen regularly) but because of the nature and social composition of the gathering, because of the courageous and previously un-articulated demands, and because of the events that followed. What followed from regular citizens celebrating its end by dancing and parading their daggers on the street – proclaiming their ‘patriotism’ – but also the hundreds of demonstrations and workers’ strikes, emboldened by the local and regional events.

Of the many things that came out of the Duwwar (articles, debates, fights, sounds of car horns, increased flag production etc.) there were also words. Words in music. A slew of songs from young Jordanian musicians and amateurs. Some were anti-protests in nature, sometimes reaching the point of celebrating the demise of the gathering, its forced end by the Gendarmerie and simultaneously threatening any attempted repeat of it. Others were extremely critical of the way the authorities dealt with the gathering and continued to criticize other problems within the Jordanian society and how they are disappointingly dealt by the government, from corruption to freedom of speech.

The song above was put online around a week after the events by 2 young Jordanian rappers. It is interesting in its lyrics; referring to the sensitivities of the Jordanian / Palestinian issue in Jordanian society and politics and its absurdity. It is important to note that this historical issue was brought to the forefront again after 24 March 2011; in plain terms, if you were pro-reform and March 24 you were Palestinian, and if not you were a ‘real’ Jordanian. Those were the accusations that were let loose on the street and in the media and were not refuted in any official discourse. These guys “Audio tunnels” say, in part ( please forgive the loose translation):

Palestinian originally and origins remain – Jordanian belonging asking nothing in return – A people not wanting an ‘alternate homeland’ I hate alternatives – only wanting a space to express without filling cemeteries – Why is it that every time [shit hits the fan] – you tell the Palestinians to get out and leave – Do you think ‘Al-Wihdat’ is prettier than ‘Tal Al-Rabee’’ – or Schneller prettier than Ramallah? – If only you heard right analyzed right spoke right – You would understand my hand is in yours – If only you wrote right spoke right broadcasted right – You would have closed the doors of sedition that have no use – If you were really the son of a tribe and know your history – You would have know my hand was always in yours – But unfortunately hate figured how to hunt you – You hate me although my master is surely yours – and my religion if yours who do I have but you and you me –

It’s also interesting in the use of video fragments from the events on the Duwwar that few songs I have seen do.

This song below is hilarious. You can see it was uploaded on 25 March 2011. It features some amateur Jordanian boys covering their faces and unsuccessfully trying to mimic rappers in their way. They are against the gathering and explicitly threaten the protestors. If only they put more of an effort to make a better song and video.

It's called 'Against the youth of 24 March'. I add it here because I think its notable that these guys did this from their home, in comparison to the barrage of more professional patriotic songs that came out (which someone should analyze, please).

Months later and there are still songs being released that reference the Duwwar and the reform movement.

When I heard this song by El Far3i for the first time I was in my car driving towards the Duwwar and I kept it on repeat throughout the ride.


The first verse says (again, forgive the translation):

Good morning to corruption and political failure 
The hard trouble and harsh living
From the baton that I took on my head
I don’t know if I still remember our main demand
You tell the government reform it tells you to milk it
The people say reform and the government says hit them
One goes to a demonstration there are many like him
But one is in school and the government says get him
You security apparatus I am surprised at how you agree
What about ‘My school, my community, my future’
Or are we doomed with slogans
It’s either the people are sheep or you are tricking us
We became like ‘Al-Hanbali’ the least in numbers
And the corrupt and the mob the most insisting
There’s someone next to the [one in] blue but he’s dressed civilian
His articles are like ‘Al-Rai’ they piss me off
It’s true my name is ‘El-Far3i’
But I am not standing on the margin
Neither on the airport road that has swerved with the diversion
They delayed the salaries let the check never be cashed
Sell the country’s property book a flight and leave
And if you thought of coming back no one will hold you accountable
Especially if the Treasurer is your relative
A minister for a week and your salary is forever
So surely the people’s demands do not suit you 

This is a beautifully shot video of a rising young group from Amman called ‘Torabyeh’ that is quite representational of the current situation and peoples woes regarding Palestine and their lives in Amman.

And this audio piece references the fake borders and the the 'birds' being thrown over the bridge during the events of 2011. It was commissioned from Ahmad Barakat and Ahmad Zatari for the exhibition ‘We have woven the motherlands with nets of iron’ that I co-curated last year with Eric Gottesman.