Arabic Rap: A form of revolutionary expression

“Esma'a” is a song that speaks about the transitory phase we are in as a people,” Omar Ali told Annahar. “It is actually a direct call to the leaders in authority who do not listen to what the people want.”
by Maysaa Ajjan

23 November 2019 | 18:02

Source: by Annahar

  • by Maysaa Ajjan
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 23 November 2019 | 18:02

Ghorabaa performing live in downtown on November 17. (Photo courtesy Ghorabaa).

BEIRUT: Chants, slogans, nationalistic songs, and other noise, such as the clanging of pots and pans, have become an integral part of the October revolution. Indeed, the audible part of the revolution has become just as important and enticing to the people as the visual one.

One recent addition to this sphere is the emergence of revolutionary rap songs in Arabic. During the course of the revolution, several Arabic rap songs were released by rappers in the Lebanese rap scene. One example is team Ghorabaa’s “عليهم," which loosely translates to “charge on," and which was released on the second day of the revolution.

“We released this track after a woman [Malak Alaywe Herz] famously kicked a man on the first day of the revolution and a poster of her kicking the man emerged with “عليهم” written on it,” Omar Ali, one of the rappers in Ghorabaa, told Annahar. “That was the source of our inspiration. We meant to ignite people’s anger with the song and give them the energy they need to be part of the revolution.”

The song “عليهم” has since received more than 40,000 views on YouTube.

Some of its lyrics translate to the following: "To my people, get rid of those rulers...Destroy their homes upon their heads, how beautiful is the revolution...Burn their flags and raise the flag of freedom.”

Ghorabaa, which means “strangers” in English, has five members: Omar Ali, Omar Adawieh, Youssef Sayouf, Ahmed Kassar, and Fady Torfeh.

Ghorabaa’s second track, released November 19, was called “esma'a," which translates to “listen” in English. It was inspired by a popular song of the same name and that includes the following chorus: “Listen to me...Just listen to what is driving me crazy...I am the tortured one and you are the one living in bliss...Actually you are the tortured one and I am the one living in bliss."

“Esma'a” is a song that speaks about the transitory phase we are in as a people,” Omar Ali told Annahar. “It is actually a direct call to the leaders in authority who do not listen to what the people want.”

Another rapper, who is new to the rap scene in Lebanon and who goes by the name “Roytivation,” is Alaa Naboulsy. He has been recording for two years with the aid of Ghorabaa, and has performed with them in downtown Beirut next to the Grand Theatro last Sunday. 

Roytivation has released one revolutionary song called “عاطية عثورة” which loosely translates to “Looks like we need a revolution." 

“I never consciously insert messages into my song,” Roytivation told Annahar. “I just sing what I feel like singing, and as long as it is relevant to the listeners and they can identify themselves with it, I’m good. I also always make sure I talk about Tripoli in my songs, because it is the city I come from, a neglected city.”

“People think that us rapping about the revolution is something new,” Omar Ali told Annahar. “But what they don’t know is that rap has always been revolutionary, all the way back to its roots in fighting slavery.”

Mohamad Shour contributed to this article.

Show Comments

An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.