Lebanon: Hip hop band’s censored album debut

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Lebanon:
Hip hop band’s censored album debut

The Beirut-based rap duo Ashekman has come up against censorship several times in its young career, reports The Daily Star, as they are about to publish their debut album with an Arabic parental advisory warning on the cover

“They give voice to Lebanon’s disaffected youth through music,” writes Daily Star’s staff reporter Theodore May about Ashekman. Behind the name of the group are the 23-year-old twin brothers Mohamed and Omar Kabbani, known on stage as Mirjim Kaleim and Carbonn, respectively. On 8 March 2007 they release their debut album, ‘Nasher Ghassil’, and this is the occation for the interview in The Daily Star.

In the article, Ashekman tells that they have come up against censorship several times in their young career:

“Closed down three times during their performances (once at a music festival in Tripoli, once at an event for the Beirut Marathon and once at Unesco Palace), the brothers argue against what they call a linguistic double standard. Musically speaking, profanities uttered in English or French, they say, get a pass from the censors and Lebanese society in general. Curses expressed in Arabic, however, get censored and roundly criticized.”

“Three times before its release this month, Ashekman’s debut album was rejected by Surete Generale, the brothers say, due to inappropriate content. To get it through they tweaked the lyrics, stopped naming people by name and switched up the syllables of certain words so the censors would accept the material and the public would still be able to catch the underlying meaning. Going one step further, Ashekan have put an Arabic parental advisory warning on their album. They are the first music group in Lebanon to do so, and they did it voluntarily.”

Even though ‘Nasher Ghassil’ is their debut album, Ashekman has a history of performances dating back to the creation of the group in 2001. In 2005, they won a competition at the Goethe Institute in Beirut. The album is out on the two brothers’ own label, Toj Kil Shi Records, and features, among many others, Clotaire K. The launch of the album on 8 March is marked with a concert at Basement, a club located near Beirut’s port.


Sources

The Daily Star – 2 March 2007:
‘Hip-hop act draws inspiration from the middle class’

Listen to Ashekman’s music on their home page on myspace.com:

www.myspace.com/ashekman

Ashekman’s official home page:

www.ashekman.com  (not much there yet… “under construction”)

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