Moroccan youth between Hip Hop and the Islamic principles. by Mohammed BRAHMI
Every generation has its own specificities in terms of the life style. Music as an artistic outlet also is being affected across generations. Morocco is famous to its cultural diversity and even-changing society. In the early twenty first century emerged a new brand of music that changed a lot of things in the Moroccan society. Hip hop found its way to become a part of some Moroccan daily life. a recent research conducted for the fulfillment of a B.A. about hip hop in Morocco shows that the majority of young Moroccans listen to Hip Hop
"I listen to rap and fusion music, but mostly rap, and especially Si Simo because he's from this neighborhood," said a local man. "I'm 19 and I'm a rapper. I think hip-hop is a way to express ourselves. I think it can change a lot of things,"1 said another. Young Moroccans discontentment is clearly demonstrated the Hip hop lyrics. For Ali Chabani, a Moroccan sociology professor, the discontentment expressed in the lyrics of Morocco's growing band of hip hop artists is an inevitable product of the country's lack of social unity: "The youth started suffering from unemployment, they started feeling marginalized and found it difficult to afford a dignified life or to establish themselves in society and so began to feel excluded,"1 he said.
The major themes of the Moroccan hip hop tackle mainly the social and political problems the Moroccan people suffer, especially youth. “H-Kayne (Moroccan Arabic for “What’s happening?”) Pioneered hip-hop in Morocco in the late 1990s and represented the emergence of a new street culture as an alternative outside of the familiar family and state structures. Originally from Meknes, the group includes four boys who grew up in the same neighborhood. They were exposed to American hip-hop through satellite television in the late 1980s and early 1990s.”2 said AOMAR BOUM (a socio-cultural anthropologist, and associate professor). H-kayne uses Arabic words to express their dissatisfaction about the economic, social and political status of Moroccan youth. “Bigg/El Khaser, Fanaire, and the Haoussa Band, their popularity remained limited to certain urban contexts and groups in Morocco until the emergence of YouTube in 2005 as a space for information sharing among Moroccan youth, who are technologically quite savvy. Indeed, for Moroccan youth, cyberspace has emerged as a useful tool”2 continued BOUM
Few years later Hip Hop made it to the Moroccan music festivals, and moved from the street to festival stages. Despite criticizing the government, this latter allowed some Hip Hop groups to stand on festivals platforms and sing their songs. The government tried to adopt these young rappers through integrating them in the national media by creating festivals where these rebellious can make their voices heard, under the government censorship. Some rappers like Bigg was allowed to made his first appearance on the national television in 2007. At the same time his music and the music of other Hip Hop began to be played on government media outlets. In 2009 and during the election Bigg was invited by Mohamed El-Yazghi the secretary general of “Union Social des forces populaires” (a Moroccan political party) To perform during one of its electoral rallies. The main reason behind this invitation is to encourage young people to vote. Bigg sang his famous song El-khouf (the Arabic for fear) to invite young Moroccans to vote and get rid of their fear. Another example is the Houassa Band, created in 2002, it consists of eight young artists from Casablanca. The band was invited to a festival in La’ayoun (a city in the south of Morocco). Thousands of teenagers gathered around the stage where the musical group performed. Even though the lyrics of their song criticized the government and policemen, these latest were not bothered by the lyrics. This shows the intention of the government to gather these young rappers, and put them under its control.
However, despite this success, hip-hop in Morocco is not without its challenges. Moroccan society is generally conservative due to the Islamic principles that underpin its culture. Hip Hop culture is borrowed from America where it was first appeared. Therefore, young Moroccans, who have of course an Islamic background, suffered from a kind of identity crisis: that is to say, the American model of Rap culture does not fit in the Islamic Moroccan context. It was then a challenge for the Moroccan Rappers to adapt Hip Hop to their Islamic and Moroccan identity, or at least to make it tolerable to the Moroccan society. This has been the case both for young listeners and fans, as well as for the rappers and producers themselves. “We are Muslims and there are things that are forbidden to us which exist in Hip Hop –mixing of men and women for example,” said Khalid Alias, known as DJ Key, (is a prominent Moroccan DJ and video director in 2006 the documentary).deeply complicated and the identify politics of it are fraught. “Sometimes I think to myself, if I am really a Muslim then what I am doing is sinning. It’s hard.” Actually the gender segregation is not clearly stated in Islam, but still it’s still regarded as “Hchoum” (Moroccan Arabic for “shame”) by the Moroccan society.
2 Contemporary Morocco State, Politics and Society under Mohammed VI, , P 17 .AOMAR BOUM