Rap on ‘l’Avenue’; Islam, aesthetics, authenticity and masculinities in the Tunisian rap scene
- 503 Downloads
This paper presents research findings from fieldwork in the rap scene of Tunis. Although the scene is relatively small, especially when compared to its Algerian counterpart, the number of young men involved in rap is expanding rapidly, particularly with the internet as a networking and promoting tool. Throughout the discussion I explore some of the ways that (Sunni) Islam intersects with rap in the artists’ lives, lyrics and identities, and the ways that their particular locatedness informs their position within what has been termed the ‘transglobal hip hop nation’. Whilst interpreting religion has long been a contested area in Tunisia, it seems that rap here functions as a route to articulating alternative interpretations of Islam, ones which not only unite the artists but offer potential for pan-umma and transglobal connectivities. These potentialities resonate with the idea of a ‘transglobal hip hop ummah’ and provide the artists with arenas for personal, political, collective and spiritual expression.
KeywordsIslam Hip hop Rap Music Tunisia Masculinities
We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and editor at Contemporary Islam for their support and suggestions, and to Sahar Alnaas and Steve Presence for their parts in greatly improving the final version. We also owe a massive merci alik to Madame Hyat and all the Tunisian brothers who made this research possible.
- Alim, H. S. (2005). A new research agenda: Exploring the transglobal hip-hop Umma. In M. Cooke & B. B. Lawrence (Eds.), Muslim networks, from Hajj to Hip-Hop (pp. 264–274). Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
- Amnesty International. (2009). Tunisia: Continuing abuses in the name of security. London: Amnesty International Publications.Google Scholar
- Ben Mhenni, L. (2009). Tunisia: attacks on freedom of expression. Global Voices Online. http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/02/01/56217/. Accessed 19 July 2009.
- Bouzine, D. (2000). Algerian rappers Sing the Blues. Unesco Courier, 34–35, July–August.Google Scholar
- Brand, L. A. (1998). Women, the state, and political liberalization: Middle Eastern and North African experiences. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Charrad, M. M. (2001). States and women’s rights: The making of postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. California: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Clifford, J. (2000). Taking identity politics seriously: ‘The Contradictory, Stony Ground...’. In Hall, S. Gilroy, P. Grossberg, L., & McRobbie, A (Eds.), Without guarantees: in honour of Stuart Hall (pp. 94–113). London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Connell, R. (2009). Gender. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
- Crossley, S. (2005). Metaphorical conceptions in hip-hop music. African American Review, 39(4), 501–522.Google Scholar
- Dien, M. I. (2004). Islamic law, from historical foundations to contemporary practice. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
- Esposito, J. L., & Voll, J. O. (Eds.), (2001). Makers of contemporary Islam. New York: Oxford University Press US.Google Scholar
- Fleetwood, N. R. (2005). Hip-hop fashion, masculine anxiety, and the discourse of Americana. In H. J. Elam & K. A. Jackson (Eds.), Black cultural traffic: Crossroads in global performance and popular culture (pp. 326–345). Michigan: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Gross, J., McMurray, D., & Swedenburg, T. (2002). Arab noise and ramadan nights: Raï, Rap, and Franco-Maghrebi identities. In J. Xavier Inda & R. Rosaldo (Eds.), The anthropology of globalization: A reader (pp. 198–231). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Hip-Hop Arabia. http://hiphoparabia.ning.com/forum. Accessed 10 July 2009.
- Mitchell, T. (Ed.), (2001). Global noise: Rap and hip-hop outside the USA. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.Google Scholar
- Muslim Hip-Hop. http://www.muslimhiphop.com/index.php?p=What_is_MHH/Music_in_Islam. Accessed 10 July.
- Osumare, H. (2005). Global hip-hop and the African diaspora. In H. J. Elam & K. A. Jackson (Eds.), Black cultural traffic: Crossroads in global performance and popular culture (pp. 266–288). Michigan: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Ouzgane, L. (Ed.), (2006). Islamic masculinities. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
- Pattillo, M. E. (2007). Black on the block: The politics of race and class in the city. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Pennycook, A. (2007). Language, localization, and the real: hip-hop and the global spread of authenticity. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 6(2), 101–115.Google Scholar
- Rose, T. (1994). Black noise: Rap music and black culture in contemporary America. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.Google Scholar
- Schade-Poulsen, M. (1999). Men and popular music in Algeria: The social significance of raï. Texas: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
- Swedenburg, T. (2001). Islamic hip-hop vs. islamophobia: Aki Nawaz, Natacha Atlas, Akhenaton. In T. Mitchell (Ed.), Global noise: Rap and hip-hop outside the USA (pp. 57–85). Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.Google Scholar
- Tate, S. (2001). “That is my Star of David”: Skin, abjection and hybridity. In S. Ahmed & J. Stacey (Eds.), Thinking through the skin (pp. 209–222). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Virolle, M. (2003). Representations and female roles in the raï song. In T. Magrini (Ed.), Music and gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean (pp. 215–232). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Whiteley, S. (2005). Rap and hip-hop: Community and cultural identity. In S. Whiteley, A. Bennett, & S. Hakins (Eds.), Music, space and place: Popular music and cultural identity (pp. 8–15). Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar
- T Men. (2007). Just a Question of Time, Unsigned.Google Scholar
- Gangstas Wanted. (2006). One-by-One, Unsigned.Google Scholar
- Gangstas Wanted. (2008). Arabi, Unsigned.Google Scholar
- Aladdin. (2009). Soldiers of Jah’s Army, Unsigned.Google Scholar
- Tupac Shakur. (1996). To Live & Die in L.A., Death Row/Interscope Records.Google Scholar