Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

33 revolutions per minute

March 6, 2011

This week the BBC program Front Row had an interesting feature on protest songs. Dorian Lynskey was one of the guests, he’s just written the new book “33 Revolutions per Minute”.

The book covers seven decades of protest in Western music including Victor Jara, Neil Young, Fela Kuti, and…Billie Holiday. Yes, that Billie Holiday: the gardenia, the heroin, the painful personal life, the distinctively beautiful voice, and the iconic song, “Strange Fruit”. Lynskey contends that song is “where the protest song as pop song starts”.

Another insight comes from Chuck D of Public Enemy, in his belief that “rap music represented a kind of CNN for black people”. That thought made for a good segue into the recent accounts of music and poets coming together in the public protests in North Africa and the Middle East to create immediate musical responses to unfolding events.

Unfortunately, when asked about current developments in Libya and the question, “do we know of any musical response there?”  Front Row‘s BBC Arabic correspondent said “there’s not much space for songs there.” That’s not quite true, as we know from the recent flood of outspoken music and videos from Libyan rapper/hip-hop artist Ibn Thabit and others in that region.

My copy of “33 Revolutions per Minute” is on pre-order, I expect it to arrive sometime soon. (The US release date is April 5th). We’ll talk about it more later here after I’ve had a chance to read it.

In the meantime, you can click here to listen to the podcast of this week’s Front Row and enjoy Ibn Thabit’s Libyan song of liberation:

Ibn Thabit:

“…this is our country this is our time
let them see the rage underneath our stress
the temperature is at the exploding point
how long can we stand to wait for change?”

playlist #150 (2/28/11)-out like the lion

February 28, 2011

World of Music
Pgm #150 – We’re seeing February out like a lion today with a fury of great global dance beats
Catch the show on Mondays 3-5pm ET – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
—-                                                                                                                                     SuperString Theory featuring Helen Kerlin-Smith: Aliwu Mix / SuperString Theory Goes To Senegal / Worldsoul 42 – (USA / SENEGAL)
Aurelio Martinez: Yange / Laru Beya / Stonetree (demo) – (HONDURAS) *NEW*
Mariana Montalvo: Tu Color Café (Your Coffee Color) / Cantos del Alma / Putumayo 174 – (CHILE)
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia: Drut Gat in Teentaal / Sāns (Breath) / Navras Records 9006 – (INDIA)
Ibn Thabit: Yassir / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (LIBYA) *NEW*
Black Uhuru: Bloodshed / Iron Storm / Mesa 79035 – (JAMAICA)
Lila Downs: Mi Corazón Me Recuerda (My Heart, My Memory) /  La Linea (Border) / Narada World 7243810265 – (MEXICO)
Alpha Yaya Diallo: Politik / Djama / Jericho Beach Music 501 – (GUINEA)
Tiné: Cobrinha / What’s Happening in Pernambuco? / Luaka Bop 6808990065 – (BRAZIL)
Agnese Manganaro: Voglio Restare Sveglia / Mille Petali / IRMA Records 846 – (ITALY)
Célia Maria featuring Amparo: Matriaméricas / Santa Rebeldia / Globalista 8 – (BRAZIL)
Saber El Robaie: Bersha / Oriental Beats 2 / Alam 626 – (TUNISIA)
Sergent Garcia: Yo Soy Salsamuffin / Una y Otra Vez / Cumbancha 19 – (SPAIN) *NEW* – coming out 3/29
Willie Colón: Jazzy / El Malo / Fania 773130029 – (PUERTO RICO)
Dota und die Stadtpiraten: Utopie / Bis Auf den Grund / Kleingeld Prinzessin Records 12708 – (GERMANY)
Usted Allarakha: The Tree of Rhythm / Rhydhun / Free Spirit 72017 – (INDIA)
Toumast: Ikalene Walegh (The Countries That Are Not Mine) / Ishumar / Real World 148 – (NIGER)
Balkan Beat Box: Habibi min zaman / Nu*Med / JDub 106 – (ISRAEL)
El Combolinga: Cumbia Caimanera / Mira Que Bien / Atxeh Independent Records 2 – (SPAIN)
Maria Bethânia: Feita Na Bahia / Encanteria / Quitanda 18 – (BRAZIL)
Novalima: Se Me Van / Coba Coba / Cumbancha 9 – (PERU)
Shantel: Planet Paprika / Planet Paprika / Crammed Discs 54 – (HUNGARY)
Karima Skalli: Ghannî yâ Fannân (Oh singer, please sing) / Wasla / Moucharabieh 321077 – (MOROCCO)
Hossam Ramzy & Phil Thornton: Electribe Blues / Egypt Unveiled / ARC Music 2316 – (EGYPT) *NEW*
Ibn Thabit: El Sooal / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (LIBYA) *NEW*

libyan love song

February 25, 2011

Overheard in the hallway at work today: “Well it really is quite a monumental shift in world politics…”

It’s on everyone’s minds: Libya, divided, after a solid week of protests with an ostensibly liberated East now under opposition control and a ferociously government-held West.

Today Human Rights Watch and 62 other international organizations petitioned the UN to remove Libya from its Human Rights Council even as protesters and Gaddafi supporters clashed in the streets of Tripoli, and government forces fired openly on the crowds. The entire Libyan UN delegation defected today and renounced their association with Gaddafi, saying they would only represent the Libyan people. Gaddafi responded to the developing situation by offering a payment of around $400.00 to every Libyan family to help offset the high cost of food. The US embassy in Tripoli closed shop and all personnel are being evacuated as I write this.

That’s a recap – a very short overview of some recent developments in the last day or so in this complex, volatile political and humanitarian crisis.

On the musical front, here’s an update from Libyan artist Ibn Thabit. His very latest is a “Libyan Love Song”. He posted it on facebook today with the message: “I think this fits the present mood a little more than last week…”

change is gonna come

February 25, 2011

From Egypt, “the sound of freedom”. This is a collaboration between Sout Alhoureya, Amir Eid Hawary, Hany Adel , and Sherif Mostafa.

Who will write Libya’s freedom anthem? Will anyone be left standing to write it when the bloody civilian massacre is over?

I went out and said I’m not coming back
I wrote with my blood in every street
We made those who couldn’t hear, finally listen
We broke down all the barriers
Our weapon was our dreams
And tomorrow is clear in front of us
For so long we’ve been waiting
We’re looking, we can’t find our place

In every street in my country the sound of freedom is calling
In every street in my country the sound of freedom is calling

We raised our heads to the sky
And hunger no longer worries us
The most important thing is our right
And writing our history with our blood
If you were one of us
Better not blabber and tell us
To go away and leave our dream
And stop saying the word “I”

In every street in my country the sound of freedom is calling
In every street in my country the sound of freedom is calling
The sound of freedom is calling.

(Lyrics translated by Ishaat)

indeed, these are remarkable days.

February 23, 2011

Time to take a break from the headlines and let a little music (and fresh footage from Egypt) do the talking.

I can tell already from the formatting on the Egypt montage video it’s going to be somewhat non-conformist.

It’s too big, too widespread to be contained.

I bet it’s going to run right over the borders.

So please pardon the appearance here – but know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

playlist #149 (2/21/11)-get up, stand up

February 21, 2011

World of Music
Pgm #149 – “There’s something happening here. What it is, ain’t exactly clear…” Today’s show is dedicated to the brave voices of revolution.
Catch the show on Mondays 3-5pm ET – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix (download)- (USA / SENEGAL)
El Génèral: Rayes Lebled / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed /  (download) – (TUNISIA)
El Génèral: Tounes Bledna / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (TUNISIA)
Mohamed Ali Ben Jemaa: Ana Fhemtkoum / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (TUNISIA)
Pedro Luis Ferrer: Fundamento / Rústico / Escondida 6507 – (CUBA)
Pedro Luis Ferrer: La Cumbanchera / Rústico / Escondida 6507 – (CUBA)
Pedro Luis Ferrer: El Molino de Constantino / Rústico / Escondida 6507 – (CUBA)
El Génèral & Mr. Shooma: Ta7ya Tounes / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (TUNISIA)
Ramy Donjewan: Ded El 7koma / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (EGYPT)
Ahmed Rock: Mamno3 Mn El Ta3’eer / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (EGYPT)
Seun Kuti: Mosquito Song / Seun Kuti + Fela’s Egypt 80 / Disorient 56 – (NIGERIA)
Chiwoniso: Matsotsi (The Land of Thieves) / Rebel Woman / Cumbancha 8 – (ZIMBABWE)
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars: Living Like a Refugee / Living Like a Refugee / Anti- 86837 – (SIERRA LEONE)
Dobet Gnahoré: Pillage / Na Afriki (My Africa) / Cumbancha 4 – (IVORY COAST)
Revolution Records: Wa2t El Thawra Gaya / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (EGYPT)
Lotfi Double Kanon: Rissala / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (ALGERIA)
Lotfi Double Kanon: 7oukouma / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (ALGERIA)
Oswin Chin Behilia: Korupshon / Liber / Otrabanda Records 8010 – (CURAÇAO)
Jimmy Cliff: The Harder They Come / The Harder They Come / Mango 162539202 – (JAMAICA)
Peter Tosh: Get Up, Stand Up / Equal Rights / Columbia 34670 – (JAMAICA)
Lee “Scratch” Perry: Scary Politicians / Revelation / Megawave 342 – (JAMAICA)
Kobo-Town: Blood and Fire / Independence / Kobo 1 – (TRINIDAD)
Black Kold Medina: Trouble The Water / Trouble The Water / BKM 1 – (N’AWLINS)
Ibn Thabit: Hadef Al-Assasi / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (LIBYA)
Ibn Thabit: Yassir / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (LIBYA)
Ibn Thabit: El Sooal / Khalas Mixtape, vol. I: Mish B3eed / (download) – (LIBYA)

get up, stand up

February 21, 2011

Khalas mixtape cover art

As of this writing (Sunday, Feb. 20th around 11:45pm ET) more than 230 protesters have been killed over the last few days on the streets of the Libyan cities Benghazi and al-Baida, many at the hands of the Libyan Army which has even opened fire on crowds of funeral attendees.

Violence has also touched protests in Zenten, and the country’s largest city of Tripoli. No one really knows how many have died or how many have been arrested because the entire nation is operating under a news blackout and the internet has been shut down.

This week’s World of Music is dedicated to the voices of revolution: from Cuba and Curaçao to New Orleans, North Africa, and beyond. The centerpiece of the show is a shockingly powerful recording of Arabic rap and hip-hop songs ripped directly from today’s international headlines. I downloaded the mix early last week from the Libyan exile site “”. Two days later the website was taken offline.

We’re going to track through the entire 12 songs of the mixtape, with contributions from Lotfi Double Kanon and Ibn Thabit (Libya), Ramy Donjevan (Egypt), Tunisian rapper El Génèral, and many more. This isn’t music you’ll be able to download yourself now, or hear almost anywhere else on American radio.

Don’t miss it – incredible times call for incredible music, and this is it. This is now.

World of Music is a voice for change every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator.  Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

Click here for more on Libya:

– from the Guardian UK

– from Human Rights Watch International

voices of north africa

February 18, 2011

Khalas mixtape cover art

Last weekend I heard On the Media‘s conversation with Abdulla Darrat, co-founder of the Libyan group Khalas (translated: “enough”). They had just released an online “mixtape” featuring some of the rap and hip-hop artists whose music has been the soundtrack of street protests in recent weeks across North Africa. I went to the website the interview had mentioned, downloaded the project’s 12 songs and cover art, and I’ve spent the last couple of days listening to the compilation’s many powerful voices.

Tonight I tried to revisit the same site ( and discovered that the site’s URL was a dead link. Deactivated, gone. I don’t know why, or what happened. I can tell you that as of  just a few hours ago, the Guardian was reporting that Libya was under a complete news blackout as protests continued in Benghazi and other cities. It’s hard to say if that site and its creative contents will ever be available again. I can only hope that its disappearance speaks to the news blackout, not some worse circumstance for its creators.

Since you may not have the same chance I did a couple of days ago to download the music of these rap and hip-hop artists, I’m going to do two things: first of all, I’m going to play that entire 12-song “mixtape” on Monday’s World of Music. You’ll be able to hear it streaming online from 3-5pm ET at, or via the regular radio at 105.9FM if you’re in Burlington, VT. Second, so we don’t have to wait that long to hear a few of the artists, I’m posting links below for some of their videos.

Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Syria, Libya, Algeria – who’s next?

These are interesting times.

And now, at the very real risk of landing myself on someone’s (everyone’s) no-fly list, here are some videos you have to experience. These are some of the very real, very NOW voices of North Africa. This is what revolution sounds like:

from Algeria: Lotfi Double Kanon’s “America” (since I can’t find a video of the song featured on the Khalas mixtape, here’s another one by the same artist):

from Libya: Ibn Thabit’s “Lookin’ For Freedom” (again, not the very same song on the mix tape but a strong one nonetheless):

from Egypt: Ramy Donjevan’s “Ded El 7kooma” (“Against the government”):

from Tunisia: El Génèral’s “Rayes Lebled”:

This is the mission statement that appears in the cover art provided in the Khalas mixtape download:

“Khalas Mixtape Vol. 1 is a compilation of songs created by North African hip hop artists from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria who have emerged as voices of recent uprisings and calls for protest. Mish B3eed, or ‘Not far,’ refers to the sense of solidarity that these youth feel across borders, the similarities of their causes and the oppressors they face, their physical proximity and the sense that our ultimate goal is within sight. Each song describes the unique circumstances of each artist’s country, carrying with it the subtleties of local dialects, but also highlights the extraordinary similarities of their struggles.”

And here’s a story the BBC’s “The World” also did on the Khalas mixtape project.

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