Tens of thousands of Egyptian workers left work on strike today
, bolstering the 16th day of protests against the regime of Hosni Mubarak and pressing for the president's immediate resignation. North American hip-hop artists, inspired by the persistence of the people in Cairo's Tahrir Square, have banded together to lend their own version of solidarity, putting it on wax in the form of a new track "#Jan25
." Released this week as a free download
, the nearly six-minute song features rappers Omar Offendum
, The Narcicyst
and Def Poet Amir Sulaiman
, with Canadian singer Ayah
on the hook.
"#Jan25" begins with a recitation of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi before
the Sami Mata-produced beat drops, and Offendum opens with the rhymes,
"I heard 'em say the revolution won't be televised/Al Jazeera proved
them wrong/Twitter has them paralyzed." The hashtag on the title of
the track is a shout out to the role Twitter trending has played in
organizing the Egyptian protests against Mubarak's decades-long rule. Stylized
mashup footage from Al Jazeera's coverage of the historic events is the
visual backdrop for the song's YouTube video.
The tip of the backwards cap to the news agency peaked their interest,
and accordingly, Offendum appeared on Al Jazeera English
to speak about
the protest song he and his musician friends collaborated on. The
Syrian-American MC said in
the course of the interview that "#Jan25" is "first and foremost
a song of solidarity with the Egyptian people who have inspired us with
their incredible, incredible resolve these past few weeks." The rapper
then spoke about the hopes of connecting the track's message to
"an audience in the United States who perhaps don't think that they
have anything to do with the events in Egypt."
The song is the latest testament to hip-hop's global mantle as a youth culture
of resistance. As the Egyptian rebellion took its cue from
neighboring Tunisia, the contagion could spread throughout the region
and beyond, inspiring future songs of solidarity along the way.
For now, Offendum ends his first verse with "We know
freedom is the answer/The only question is 'Who's next?'"