Egypt: ‘The Voice of the Street’ in Cairo could not be silenced

10 November 2011


Despite censorship and harassment from the Egyptian military regime, the biggest ever line up of Arabic rappers and the spirit and resilience of the Cairo youth made Friday 4 November 2011 a night to remember, wrote Martin Fernando Jakobsen in his report about the event:

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The Voice of the Streets concert succeeds despite military crackdown

The biggest ever line up of Arabic rappers and the spirit and resilience of the Cairo youth made Friday November 4th a night to remember despite censorship and harassment from the Egyptian military regime.

The Voice of the Streets brought together political dissidents rappers from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan on Egyptian soil in order to remind the world that the struggle for freedom of artistic expression and speech in the Middle East has just begun.

In setting up the event the organizers from Turntables in the Camps and Immortal Entertainment has been constantly reminded of the need for change in Egypt due to the persistence of corruption within the regime and the tight military control of all public events, but it was not until the very hour of the concert that the extent of regime ruthlessness and censorship reared its ugly head.

At the scheduled hour of the start of the event the Interior Minister ordered the Gezirah Youth Club in Cairo who had lend its facilities to the organizers to shut the gates and cancel the concert. The reason was that thousands of people had gathered as a reaction to the 7-day promotion were the involved rappers made use of guerrilla free style rap happenings in the streets of Cairo to spread the word of the free show. When the news of the huge gathering and the fact that a large group of wounded people from the revolution was invited reached the military they closed the venue and threatened to send in troops.

As a swift reaction to the events on the ground the organizers and rappers immediately left the venue and spread the word to the crowd that the concert would take place in a different spot no matter the cost.

A local entrepreneur provided a sound system and a roof as stage and more than 500 people rushed across Cairo to make sure that The Voice of the Street could not be silenced.

In the end the concert took place and hopefully the events of November 4th will be a reminder to us all that Freedom of speech and artistic expression can never be taken for granted in a region that has never experienced such freedoms in human history.

Turntables in the Camps and Immortal Entertainment would like to express our admiration and gratitude to all the remarkable people that helped make the biggest ever Arab Hip Hop event a irreversible fact and we remain dedicated to fight for the Voice of the Street to be heard in the Middle East. We would also like to thank the Danish Center for Culture and Development for funding this en devour.

Martin Fernando Jakobsen




About the event

‘The Voice of the Streets’ took place in the Gezira Youth Center in Cairo on 4 November 2011. The event brought together key dissident rappers from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Palestine for the first time.

The purpose of the non-profit event was to show the importance of the voice of the street, and remind everyone that the struggle for freedom and peace in the region is far from over.

The line-up was:

El General (Tunisia) – Was demonstrating from day one and made the first anti-regime rap, that helped to launch both the Tunisian revolution and later the Arab Spring.

MC Swat (Libya) – Made the first anti-Gadaffi rap and had to flee the security forces to save his life.

Boikutt / Ramallah Underground (Palestine) – Front man in the legendary Ramallah Underground crew, that is equivalent to the Wu-Tang Clan in the Middle East.

FeesDeeb (Egypt) – A main figure on Tahrir square, this investment banker turned rapper, was on the square demonstrating and performing every day until the Mubarak regime fell in Egypt.

Amin (Egypt) – Philosophical rapper focusing on how to turn the energy of the young Arab revolution into a better tomorrow.

Arabian Knightz (Egypt) – This massive 15 man crew created one of the anthems to the Egyptian revolution and are still very active in the struggle for freedom.

Malikah (Lebanon) – Female Rapper who is fighting for women’s place in Arab hip hop. She has been performing all over the Middle East.

Edd (Lebanon/Palestine) – Palestinian rapper representing the huge refugee diaspora in Lebanon and Jordan.

Turntables in the Camps was initiated by Martin Fernando Jakobsen as a pilot project in November 2009 to explore the interest of and possibility to set up dj schools in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Three dj schools were established in Lebanon and Jordan, conducting DJ and rap workshops for Palestinian refugee youth, with the aim of including the young refugees in the global youth culture of dj-ing and the creation of electronic music, and thus creating a window to the world for marginalized refugee youth.

More information about the event

The Daily News Egypt – 8 November 2011:
Dedication to the hip hop cause

    Poster for
the event

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