Saturday, March 12, 2005

The great divide

The baggage that accompanies hip-hop to produce 'hip-hop culture' (epitomised by the violent, mysogynistic US industry) unfortunately doesn't go missing on entering new countries as often as my luggage does. A full-scale lyrical (but bordering on physical) war is being waged between two of the leading lights of Israeli hip-hop: a rightwing Jew, Kobi Shimoni and his rival, the leftwing Arab, Tamer Nafar.

Rappers feud with each other the world over. Sometimes there's a reason, such as a perceived slur or a business arrangement turned sour; other times it's simply a matter of colliding egos. And sometimes, it's about the future of the state of Israel.

Kobi Shimoni and Tamer Nafar are both 25, both Israeli and both MCs. That's where the similarity ends. Shimoni, who calls himself Subliminal, lives in affluent Tel Aviv, where his business empire includes a studio, a record label, a publishing company and a clothing line. Nafar, who raps under the name TN in the trio DAM, lives in the dilapidated town of Lod, 10 miles to the south. Shimoni is a household name who has worked with US stars such as Wyclef Jean and whose last album went double platinum; Nafar has yet to secure a record deal. Shimoni gets calls from the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; Nafar gets stopped and searched in the street. Shimoni is Jewish; Nafar is an Arab.
Click here for the full story. You are warned that some of the language is rather unsavoury but sparse.

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