Palestinian hip-hop trio DAM, above, wield the power of hip-hop as a force against the Israeli occupation of their homeland—the world’s longest—and their minds as well.
Formed in 1998 by brothers Suhell and Tamer Nafar, center and right (friend Mahmoud Jreri, left, was added later), they initially sought to make party records that would earn them cool points with peers and the ladies. Then it was still “just for fun,” says Tamer. They completed a six-track EP titled Stop Selling Drugs, the first time any Palestinian had ever recorded rap music.
What politicized them, however, was the Second Intifada of 2000…and the music of 2Pac. As Tamer poignantly told me, for my March 2008 piece in VIBE, “Straight Outta Palestine,”
“There was an article about two kids who killed an officer and they blamed Tupac’s lyrics. ‘Pump ya fists like this / Holla if you hear me’…I think, was the name of the song,” citing the lead single from 2Pac’s 1993 sophomore album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. “It made the first impression that they are talking something that I’m feeling, or that I’m seeing, or what I’m experiencing. It all started from 2Pac.” How did this happen? Tamer thinks back to “Holla”’s raw and chaotic B&W music video [right]. “When you see a Black man who’s being chased by the police, we get chased by the police, here. If I didn’t experience it, then my cousin did. If he didn’t, then my friend did. If he didn’t, then my neighbor did. When you see he’s talking about people in prison. Most of our friends are in prison. When he’s talking about drug dealing…. When he talks about slavery, you can compare it to the occupation.”
Out went the “I’m-so-dope,” records, in went tracks like “Meen Erhabe (Who’s The Terrorist?),” their brutal, anger-filled flamethrow against the hypocrisies of their colonizing government. The release of their self-financed, 2006 CD, Dedication, their appearance in director Jackie Salloum’s 2009 documentary, Slingshot Hip-Hip, right, and as much overseas touring as Israel will allow have solidified their reputation as part of Palestine’s leading edge in the music of resistance.
DAM (Da Arabian MC’s) are guests today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 30, at 2 pm ET. They’ll also be performing, as part of Homeland Hip Hop III, tonight, 9 pm, with a gang of other acts, at Southpaw in Brooklyn (125 5th Ave.; 718-230-0236).
Then, tomorrow, May 1, marks the 50th anniversary of the U-2 incident, one of the most harrowing moments of the Cold War. After pilot Gary Powers’ plane was shot down by the Soviets, the U.S. government accelerated their development of an aircraft that would fly faster and higher than any had yet done, while still keeping an electronic eye on our enemies and rivals.
The result was the Lockheed SR-71, below, designed by legendary aeronautical engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, head of the company’s Advanced Development Projects division, popularly known as Skunk Works.
In his new book, From RAINBOW to GUSTO: Stealth and the Design of the Lockheed Blackbird, right, author Paul A. Suhler discusses the immense political, corporate, and, especially, technological challenges that faced Lockheed, and the U.S., when they set out to build this amazing machine.
You can hear DAM’s and Paul A. Shuler’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.