August 19, 2019
Palestine’s rich hip-hop heritage is born out of the tension in the region, but BLTNM don’t just want to make music inspired by conflict – they want to have fun too
If Israeli soldiers start shooting, we wont stop the interview: Palestinian hip-hop crew BLTNM
Before I meet Palestinian hip-hop’s new wave, I hear them everywhere. Al Nather’s sleek productions pump out of car speakers in the Jordanian desert, and Shabjdeed’s raps tumble from the bars of Haifa in Israel. And, of course, you hear it all in their home – the tumultuous city of Ramallah.
On the road to their studio, near the de facto Palestinian capital, we twist through terraced hills of olive trees. The stark wall separating Israel from the West Bank looms over the horizon. Shabjdeed’s lyrics are evidently informed by the conflict between the countries: one song expresses his fury at being held for hours at a military checkpoint. Yet, when I ask in the studio about politics, he bristles, reciting a common question he is asked: “How does it feel to live under occupation?”
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