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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Why is this rapper from Gaza singing songs of unemployment?

Why is this rapper from Gaza singing songs of unemployment?

October 06, 2017 13:05 IST

Meet Ibrahim Ghunaim, who raps to a different beat in an Islamist-ruled Palestinian enclave.

The 25-year-old, who grew up listening to American rapper Eminem, began rapping when he was 13 and hopes for an international career one day. 

His songs focus on Gaza's high unemployment, women's rights, young Palestinians jailed by Israel for alleged security offences and the absence of peace.

This year alone, he's written 25 songs. Take a look at some glimpses from his life!

Rapper Ibrahim

Ibrahim Ghunaim performs in a studio in Gaza City.

He has been rapping to a different beat in an Islamist-ruled Palestinian enclave rocked by internal conflict and three wars with Israel over the past decade. 

It took years to change the public perception of hip hop in the conservative Gaza Strip, which the Hamas movement seized in 2007 from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

All photographs: Mohammed Salem/Reuters 
 

Rapper Ibrahim

Ibrahim Ghunaim practices songs in his room, at home.

 

Rapper Ibrahim

When he has the time, Ibrahim teaches children about rap.

Rappers in Gaza did not have an easy start, and their first performance in 2005 -- to celebrate Israel's withdrawal of troops and settlers -- did not go down well.

At the show, a pioneer rap band had to flee the stage after a crowd was angered by what it viewed as offensive hand gestures by the performers.

Rapper Ibrahim

Practice sessions are mostly conducted in damaged buildings like this.

 

Rapper Ibrahim

A mural depicting late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, shown in the background on a wall outside Ibrahim's house. 
 

Rapper Ibrahim

Ibrahim with his mother, as his brother who has Down syndrome looks on, at their family home in Gaza City.

"He sings mostly nationalist songs, about social issues and about our life," Ghunaim's mother said. 

 

Rapper Ibrahim

That's what his room looks like, with bursts of creativity.  

 

Rapper Ibrahim

An editor works on one of the songs of Ibrahim in a studio..

Many local hip hop performers have either migrated or stopped performing because they cannot find sponsorship, Ghunaim said, adding that he was also looking to leave, though not before he makes his mark at home.

 

Rapper Ibrahim

A wedding party in Gaza City, where Ibrahim performed. 

 

Rapper Ibrahim

Ibrahim takes centrestage as the crowd cheers.

While social and political tensions and violence provide ample material for his lyrics, Gaza itself is far from fertile ground for nourishing hip hop careers.

 

Rapper Ibrahim

The beach also makes for a great rehearsal spot.