Arts & Entertainment

DAM: Palestine’s first rap group plays McCormick Lounge

DAM, a popular Palestinian rap group , performed at McCormick Lounge to a diverse crowd of more than 100 students and community members on Friday, April 5 to raise a w areness about the struggle of the Palestinian people.

DAM, which stands for Da Arabian MC’s, is the first hip-hop group to emerge from Palestine, founded by brothers Tamer and Suhell Nafar and their friend Mahmoud Jreri, according to their website. They released their sophomore album, Dabke on the Moon, late last year and are on a U.S. tour promoting the record.

Courtesy of LUCine
Courtesy of LUCine

Before the concert, students and community members mingled in the foyer of McCormick Lounge where tables with merchandise promoted Palestinian resistance; there were t-shirts that read “Hip-hop is bigger than the occupation,” and kufiya, a traditional Arab headdress characterized by its pattern, similar to that of houndstooth. Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) had a table with fact sheets, posters and SJP t-shirts with a Rambler wearing a kufiya.

After a brief introduction from SPJ, DAM walked on stage and started the show. They have a hybrid sound of American hip-hop beats and Middle Eastern melodies with hard-hitting political lyrics.

“Guys, get your hands up to help with the jetlag,” they said as they took the stage.

DAM rapped aggressively in both Arabic and English, and gave the crowd a crash course in Arabic, teach- ing them how to say phrases from their songs. They used irony and sarcasm to make their points about the Isreali government, Palestinian suffering and the U.S. involvement in the conflict.

Their most famous song, from the 2008 album Slingshot Hiphop, called “Who’s the Terrorist?” was downloaded one million times shortly after its Internet release. With lyrics like “You grew up in spacious homes, we grew up in burrows,” and “A minority that ends up as a majority in the cemeteries,” the song suggests the duality and subjectivity in the concept of terrorism.

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Courtesy of LUCine

They even had a soundbite of President Obama’s speech from his recent trip to Israel, in which he claimed, “Palestinians deserve a state of their own.” But DAM made it clear they thought it w as just political rhetoric.

The approximately 120 attend- ees, including 40 Loyola students, responded enthusiastically to DAM’s performance by clapping their hands, singing along and dancing.

Samira Baraki, a biology and psy- chology student, had never listened to DAM before attending the concert, but enjoyed the music and the atmosphere the group created.

“I walked in and the crowd was just really hyped, and they created a lot of awareness for all the Arab nations, especially Palestine and Syria,” said Baraki, 19 .

During the group’s last song of their set, they asked the crowd to perform a dabke. According to SJP President Jumana Al-Qawasmi, dabke is a traditional Palestinian line dance, where dancers join hands in a circle and follow the circle while stepping.

While Al-Qawasmi wished more people would have attended the event, she thought DAM put on a great performance and was excited to ha ve them at Loyola.

“I thought the event was great,” said the junior English and biology student. “I loved that we reached a lot of Loyola people who I’ve never met before. It was cool to have people experience another facet of Palestinian culture.”

SJP and LUCine, Loyola’s film society, presented the event. LUCine recorded the event, in addition to DAM’s WBEZ radio interview be- fore the concert on Friday, and plan to make a short documentary about the group.

April 10-14 is Palestinian Awareness Week, and SJP and the Middle Eastern Student Association have many events for those interested in learning more about the Palestinian perspective and understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To find out more, visit the MESALUC facebook page.

Check out some of DAM’s music on their soundcloud