Palestine: Darg Team

Rappers Fadi and Bess speak about freedom of expression in Palestine


Freemuse interview with two members of the hip-hop group Darg Team from Gaza Town — about their experiences with censorship because they use their music to communicate critical and political messages, and about the negative image hip-hop has in Gaza because it is considered a ‘Western’ style of music.

Darg Team’s profile on MySpace:
Darg Team’s music videos on YouTube:
The video clip is produced by Freemuse. It was recorded on 20 October 2010 in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Ole Reitov and Mik Aidt.

6:09 minutes

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Interview with Darg TeamTranscription of the video recording of 20 October 2010

Bess: “We believe that hip-hop is more honest and more obvious than the news channels, or news agencies, or tv. We can talk about anything or whatever we want, whenever we want – with the way that we prefer, or the way that we see [things]. Because we are part of this community in Gaza, and we see how people act in the streets and the cafés and everywhere, and that they [the news channels] cannot make people understand what lies behind the hard situation that they face. We can hear them talking about the issues in Gaza, and we make them understand with our language which is hip-hop music.”

Fadi: “Some of the difficulties that we faced during the past six years since we started doing music, especially the last three years, have been with the current government in Gaza. And it is because of the [lack of] freedom of speech, and because of what we feel is right to do – because we speak the truth, and we say it loud and clear. So, two members of the group have been put in prison for that, and questioned, and we were actually banned from making music in Gaza, and this is because we criticize the way that our government works, and we are not afraid of saying that. But it is becoming more risky with time, especially after this event. They said that “they are watching us”, and that we shouldn’t cross certain lines. But we keep on crossing these lines, because this is what we are seeing, since we do hip-hop.”

Bess: “We see ourselves as really honest when we talk about these issues, and it is really dangerous to talk about this kind of stuff in Gaza. Because we don’t have that 100 percent democracy in Gaza. As you know, it is a little bit dangerous. So we are trying to make it like ‘between the lines’, the stuff that we talk about. Especially if it is about the government.”

“The government is part of us. We made the government. We put them in these positions, and we can take them down. If we don’t understand this now… when are we going to understand that? That is what we talk about in our music. That is what we say in our music. That is why the government wants to ban us, because we say that ‘we put you in that chair, so you should represent us. But you are misrepresenting us, so you’ll need to step down.’ ”

“The people in Gaza thinks that ‘hip-hop is a Western idea, it is Western culture, and therefore we don’t accept it in our Palestinian community’. But we tell them ‘no, we are just using the idea to make people understand our lyrics, our situation’, because we can see that this kind of culture, everyone is using it around the world, so we only took the idea and then we are trying to put our own musical folklore in the middle of these songs, to make people love it, or at least like it a little.”

“We face a lot of difficulties. To make a concert, we have to go to the government to ask for permission, but what they always tell us is: ‘Okay, bring up the lyrics’,   but we can’t do that, because the lyrics are against them. So when we do this, and they go through the lyrics, and if they really understood them, because there is always this that we use a double meaning and metaphors. We say something that is obvious but the real message and the real meaning is really hidden. If they understood everything we say, they’d really kill us. Like when we say that ‘our regime is a democracy from the outside but it is a dictatorship from the inside’. So, we feel the censorship when we try to do something, and since we can’t [make concerts], we just put our music online, and people use it online, and we see the reaction from the people, and from the government, and that is what happened to the two that were in prison.”

“Hip-hop is really like a kind of newspaper today, and everyone is using it, around the world.”

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