The Arab Spring has changed the landscape in North Africa, not only politically but also culturally and musically. Spreading throughout the region alongside demands for political freedom, rap music has become a popular way for people to express their desire for change.
The Arab Spring: Dawn of a musical revolution Across North Africa and the Middle East people have risen up and demanded a voice. And while the calls may have been political in nature, protestors have used various cultural means to express their desire for change, including music and, specifically, rap.
Media has been at the very heart of the demands for change, with the young using tools such as the internet to spread their message. Music has been another weapon. So often a voice for the disenfranchised, rap music has political defiance and revolutionary ideals at its very core. So it is hardly surprising that the genre has taken off in North Africa in the past 18 months, providing people with the means to express themselves.
The changing voice of rap music
Coming out of the U.S. in the 70s, rap became a global phenomenon in the 80s and has had a presence in North Africa since the 90s. But it is only with the demise of dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya that the genre was able to free itself from censorship.
Previously, few had dared to speak out against their governments, fearful of retribution. But the Arab Spring has given young musicians the confidence to speak out. Some of the biggest artists in this musical groundswell are Tunisia's El General, DJ Costa and Psyco-M; Egypt's Ahmed Mekky, Ramy Donjewan and Arabian Knightz; and Libya's Emad Abbar and Hamza Sisi. The popularity of these and other artists continues to grow by the day.
The revolution will be televised… online
The internet has made it easier than ever to share music and in the face of state censorship artists relied on the Web to spread their message enabling their songs to spread from city to city and cross national boundaries.
Traditional media channels such as newspapers and television may have been muted by state control, but crumbling regimes were powerless to contain Twitter and Facebook. These social tools gave young people across North Africa a way to connect with others who felt the same and unite behind the revolutionary ideals expressed in the lyrics of their songs.