The ongoing slaughter in Gaza has brought a great many artists, musicians and celebrities out in support of Palestine. This is nothing new. In fact, every major Israeli offensive seems to grow the number of artists willing to speak up and stand against the crimes of the apartheid state.
But there’s support, and there’s solidarity. Both are of course welcome. But there’s a difference between expressing one’s outrage at a crime against humanity and outwardly answering the call from those who seek to end those same crimes. The track above is a solid attempt to do the latter.
What sticks out about “Boycott Israel,” and what allows it to work on a certain level, is the basic internationalism that the lineup itself embodies. The track is primarily from Don Martin, one-third of Norwegian hip-hop group Gatas Parlament, who for twenty-plus years have been something roughly akin to Norway’s version of Public Enemy. Martin’s bandmate Elling Borgersrud once ran for public office as a member of the far-left Red Electoral Alliance.
It also features what can reasonably be called a global consortium of militant hip-hop notables: well-known Peruvian-American rapper Immortal Technique, El Tipo Este of Cuban duo Obsesion, Parisian rapper Tonto Noiza, and Jonnesburg-based Tumi Molekane. As if to drive the globalism home, each artist raps in their native tongue.
Generally, it’s impressive that the whole track is built around informing listeners of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions without sounding like a pamphlet (though it sometimes comes close).
Tech’s best wordplay comes in the form of asking: “So how the fuck you gonna have a peace settlement? When people want a piece of your land to build settlements?”
Molekane’s verse is strongest, at least among the two delivered in English, if for no other reason than its reference to the artist’s own experiences with South African apartheid and their parallels to Palestine today.
The sample at the end is from author Arundhati Roy’s famed “Come September” speech, delivered in September 2002.