“Common Beats” between Europe and Yemen [Archives:2006/1004/Culture]

December 4 2006

A music and dance festival entitled “Common Beats: Hip Hop Music and Dance” is running from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12 with assistance from the German Embassy, the French Embassy and the Ministry of Culture.

This project represents another step in the cultural dialogue between the Arab World and Europe, aimed at youth. “Common Beats” will continue the successful cooperation between the two European Embassies and Yemeni people, after the successful cultural events “Musical Gazz” in 2003 and “Street Art” in 2005.

“Common Beats” will feature 2 French and 2 German artists with Arab backgrounds who will come to Sana'a to pass on their experience to 14 Yemeni participants from Sana'a, Aden and Hodeidah in a two-week workshop, culminating in open air concerts in Aden, Hodeidah and finally in Sana'a.

The hip hop culture is a form of popular youth culture in Europe and as well in the Arab World. Coming up in the late 1970s, it is wide-spread around the entire world: especially in France, from the beginning hip hop culture had a strong connection to the Arab-African culture because most of the artists are descended from African and Magreb Immigrants. In Germany likewise, many Hip Hop artists are of Turkish origin.

The lyrics often treat topics of the immigrants' experiences in the French and German society and are rich of social issues brought forward in a humorous way – against racism and mistreatment. The dance has a competitive character similar to some tribal dances. Through the 1990s, the music grew to become one of the most popular genres in Germany and France.

Although hip hop culture and music didn't start long ago in the Arab World, it has a high popularity almost everywhere from the Magreb to the Middle East and is played on radio and TV stations. Very popular hip hop performers are “MTM” from Egypt, also well known is the Kuwaiti hip hop band called “Army of One” and “DJ Outlaw” from Bahrain, “Clotaire K” from Lebanon and the Palestinian rappers “MWR.” One of the most successful Arabic rappers however is the Moroccan artist “Salah Edin” who has performed in over 31 countries in 4 continents. The Yemeni Rap singers and hip hop dancers who participate in the workshop are sportive young gifted talents in this musical style, and are supposed to relate to the Yemeni experience. The workshop, as an alternative to chewing qat, is supposed to animate the young to be sportive and creative. The workshop culminates in the production of a CD.