Rap on ‘l’Avenue’; Islam, aesthetics, authenticity and masculinities in the Tunisian rap scene
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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.
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