News / Arts & Entertainment

Contemporary Events Inspire Arab Hip-Hop Artist

Andy Edwards

A Moroccan woman who only discovered her talent as a hip-hop performer when she came to study in London is now at the forefront of this musical genre. Master Mimz delivered her own commentary on the Arab Spring with her song, "Back Down Mubarak."

Leighton House in west London was an unlikely setting for the cutting edge sounds of hip-hop, but its former owner, the 19th century Orientalist Frederic Leighton, might well have approved.

Myriam Bouchentouf, otherwise known as Master Mimz, performed as part of the Nour Festival, sponsored by the local borough to present the broad range of Middle East culture.

Until she came to London two years ago, Bouchentouf never thought of switching from fan to performer.

"I got into hip-hop because I've always been a big fan of the music genre and I thought this was the voice of this generation, like rock music," explained Bouchentouf.

Events in Cairo's Tahrir Square in late January helped set a train of protest in motion throughout much of the Middle East. Arab hip-hop has long commented on injustice, and the musicologist Randa Safieh says Myriam Bouchentouf is helping to further more than one revolutionary cause.

"Myriam is part of the new generation of Arab hip-hop artists and female hip-hop artists are still a minority, but I think that artists like Myriam are setting a precedent for the future which is definitely a positive development for the genre," said Safieh.   

Bouchentouf's best known number, "Back Down Mubarak", was inspired not only by watching contemporary events in Egypt - it stemmed from a lifelong affinity for Egyptian culture.

"Growing up in Morocco we had a lot of access to Egyptian culture whether it was movies, films, arts and I guess, in a way, I always felt that closeness, and I think the whole Arab world can attest to that and say that Egyptian culture was very important to us, so when it happened, I automatically felt a connection," she explained.

Much of Myriam's material is personal.  She has plenty to say about being a woman in Arab society.

In the driving rhythms of hip-hop, musicologist Randa Safieh believes youth in the Middle East are also following long established tradition.

"Part of the reason that young Arabs are attracted to hip-hop is that in Arab culture, poetry is very highly revered, and the spoken word, and there a lot of parallels between that and Arab hip-hop," Safieh added.

Hip-hop as a musical form has been going for 30 years. As an Arab woman, Myriam Bouchentouf, aka Master Mimz, is providing fresh perspective in a time of turbulence.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."