The top Palestinian hip hop trio are preparing to take the rest of the world by storm with a convincing set of political and social raps. DAM are Tamer Nafar, Suhel Nafar and Mahmoud Jreri, three young Palestinian rappers from a small mixed Arabic and Jewish town near Jerusalem, called Lod. Dedication is their third CD, and first to be released internationally. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, many of their lyrics are concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as global terrorism and concerns such as women’s rights and drugs.
Delivering their effective but never knowingly overly-macho vocals in (mainly) Arabic, Hebrew, French and English, theirs is a tough but accessible approach to hip hop consciousness rapping, mixing Arabic instrumentation and samples, catchy hooks and programmed beats with a smoothly contemporary rap style, all rooted in the Arabic pop of North Africa and the Middle East.
There’s a thread of hope and inclusion running through the album, not least on tracks such as Ng’ayer Bukra (Change Tomorrow) and Mali Huriye (I Don’t Have Freedom) where a chorus of children sweeten some already appealing melodies.
There are some shades of cool Western soul to other tracks, such as the clever Al Huriye Unt’a (Freedom For My Sisters), a song which employs the seduction of a repeated piano phrase and female harmonising and rapping to deliver its message of support for Arab women’s equality. There are harder hitting moments too — the French-language Mes Endroits (My ‘Hood) is a shameless attempt at appealing to the Parisian urban scene; G’areeb Fi Bladi (Stranger in My Own Country) broods with atmosphere ire at the Palestinian plight; and Inkilab (Revolution) speaks the global language of Marley-inspired roots consciousness.
DAM are about to embark on a tour of Europe, and it’s hard to see how this smart and accessible roots-to-rap cocktail can fail.