Monday, November 3, 2008

Made in KSA: the Saudi hip-hop

Hip-hop music has become popular in the Arab world since a few years in places like Palestine, Morocco, Egypt… But today, it is also a reality in the supposedly less flashy country of the whole area, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Qusay, a Saudi-born musician who has lived a few years in the USA before he came back to the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), is the leader of a band called The Legend of Jeddah (a reminiscence of Star wars Legend of the Jeddai?). Their last CD has been an unexpected success.

Obviously, rap music in KSA does not come from the ghetto. Performing in places like the economic forum of Jeddah and adopted by the prestigious MTV Arabia, the Legend of Jeddah has nothing to do with "gangsta rap" music.

On the contrary, its clean hip-hop music can be seen as a perfect advertising for a modern KSA, far away from the clichés of islamic radicalism and moral rigor, something Qusay himself explains in great detail in his various interviews for the Arabic press.

Still, the Legend of Jeddah rappers make clear that things are changing in the KSA. For instance, their greatest hit, the Wedding, is a slightly ironic parody of the local traditions, with a wedding party which almost becomes postmodernist when Qusay starts singing, nicely mixing modern rhythms with traditional tunes.

Have a look to their 5’ minutes clip which should calm down the advocates of the so called “clash of civilizations” !

As usual, the link to the more developed post in French. Illustration from

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