Hip-hop is not new to Gaza, but in recent years – since Hamas came to power – public performances have been nonexistent. Wherever it has flourished, the art form has been misunderstood and misrepresented by politicians as a negative influence, and that is true in Gaza as well.
At one of the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) workshops I took part in last week in Gaza, young rapper Mohammed Elsusi spoke of his frustration at not being able to practice his art in his own country. This is especially hard, when, as Elsusi says, his work speaks about the conditions and struggles Palestinians are living through.
Elsusi, who together with his brother Osama Elsusi, form the duo Revolution Makers, did get to stage a very rare public performance at the closing night of PalFest in Gaza City on 27 May. I captured this video of them performing “I am still fighting.”
In his introduction, Mohammed Elsusi explained that the song is about life in Palestine “where we’re still fighting, but not gaining anything. We haven’t achieved any specific goal, or reached any borders, not 1967, not 1948. … We’re still not free and we’re living at the mercy of the tunnels and the Rafah crossing.”
The refrain goes:
I’m still fighting, fighting, fighting
While I’m dying
I’m still resisting, resisting, resisting
As I lose my country
I think the video of the live performance is important but have a listen of this higher quality recorded version:
Another song I loved that really shows off their talent is “Wasta Sheek” (Fancy Connections):
The second hip-hop act of the night was Majd Antar of the Gaza group Antara. With backing from Revolution Makers, he sang “Long Live Palestine”:
You can find Majd Antar on Facebook.
Although I didn’t catch them on video, Gaza break dance crew Camp Breakerz, who were formed in 2005, also performed at PalFest. This is one of their recent, official videos “Made in Gaza.”