Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Cross-border
MusicThe Arts

Top 5 (Lyrical) Reality Checks

Suggested by Big Hass

Real Arab hip-hop artists that don’t forget the street.

Egypt: With his mellow, direct style Deeb’s social commentary goes straight to the heart of popular issues. He affectionately mixes folklore with a modern political message of equality.

Palestine/UK: Shadia Mansour matches strength with grace to make an unflinching stand for her people and culture. Her fierceness in calling out hypocrisy is layered with a soulful wake-up call for change.

Iraq/Candada: The Narcicyst is a humanist in lyrical clothing. He mixes global issues with local faces, weaving a sweeping spiritual questioning about Arab and Muslim values into his witty tracks.

Lebanon: El Rass is a poet of defiant ironies backed by relentless rhythms. He orchestrates lushly packed lyrics that push stinging visions, and his intelligence is liberating.

Palestine/USA: Suheir Hammad is a spoken-word poet with coolly electrifying elocution. Suave and tough, she delivers dagger-sharp points while praising the ties that bind.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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