[Mb-civic] Rap In IRAN .. Weapons of mass liberation

Jim Fouratt jimfouratt at msn.com
Sun Sep 19 14:21:28 PDT 2004

Less we forget ... At the core it is a culture war .......  Don¹t think
Russell ³the only color I think abut is Green ³ Simmons would sign him ....
But maybe Jello Biafra would!


"The battle to reclaim democracy is going to be a difficult one.  It is a
battle that must range across continents and countries.  It must not
acknowledge national boundaries, but if it is to succeed, it has to begin in
America.  The only institution more powerful than the U.S. government is
American civil society.  Hundreds of thousands of you have survived the
relentless propaganda you have been subjected to, and are actively fighting
your own government.  In the ultra-patriotic climate that prevails in the
United States, that's as brave as any Iraqi or Afghan or Palestinian
fighting for his or her homeland.  I hate to disagree with your president:
yours is by no means a great nation.  But you could be a great people."
--Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.

Rapper stirs Iran

Friday 03 September 2004, 21:38 Makka Time, 18:38 GMT

Shahkar Binesh-Pajouh's lyrics tackle joblessness and poverty

A smartly dressed singer is winning fans and annoying conservatives in Iran
with music far from its roots in US ghettoes.
Shahkar Binesh-Pajouh, Iran's bow-tie wearing dapper rapper would look
somewhat out of place in the Bronx borough of New York.

Targeting unemployment, poverty and Westernised Iranian girls in his new
album, Binesh-Pajouh is a lecturer with a doctorate in urban planning whose
poetry translations will hit the shelves soon.

"I chose rap because I can say many things with it, not because I live like
a rapper," said Binesh-Pajouh in his affluent north Tehran apartment.

He said it took four years for the Culture Ministry to approve a rap album
and it did so only after he deleted six songs from his original 10.

"Iran's officials were reluctant to give permission to rap music because of
its critical language," he said.

Changing times

Officials imposed a two-year ban on his live acts in 1999 after hard-line
vigilantes broke up one of his concerts at a Tehran music festival.

Following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution all but classical or religious
music was banned. But restrictions eased after the landslide victory of
reformist President Muhammad Khatami in the 1997 elections.
Restrictions have eased under
President Muhammad Khatami

The lyrics in Binesh-Pajouh's Eskenas album focus on the malaise of poverty
Iran says 17% of the population live in poverty; analysts put the figure
nearer 40%.
"No one is born a thief, but you cannot find a loaf of bread at night," the
32-year old sings. "Have you ever seen your child biting a watermelon skin
from hunger in a slum?"

Eskenas is Persian for a banknote and on the album cover Binesh-Pajouh poses
like a Chicago gangster, puffing on a fat cigar above a torn one dollar

Among the many maxims drummed into Iranian schoolchildren is: "Anyone who is
knowledgeable has power, with knowledge the heart of an old person is

In Binesh-Pajouh's scathing lyrics this becomes: "Anyone who is wealthy has
power, with wealth the heart of an old person is young."
Challenging opinions

Binesh-Pajouh also pokes at fun at girls who he thinks wear too much
make-up. "Lip liner and lipstick are more vital than daily bread," he raps.

Iranian girls, he says, would be better off if they followed Persian
traditions instead of being infatuated with Western fashions.
The rapper has criticized Iranian
women's love of cosmetics

Binesh-Pajouh has published two books and his translation of love poetry by
Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda is pending publication.
The rapper said music should serve as a medium to challenge opinions in
Iran, a country where more than 70% of its 66 million people is under 30.

"I intend to criticize socio-political problems more seriously in the
future," he said. 


The latest Western hits and banned California-based Persian singers are
widely available in Iran. Binesh-Pajouh believes bans have only set up
pre-revolutionary singers as idols for the young.
In Iran, live concerts are still tepid affairs as concert-goers are banned
from dancing. Music critics are also worried.

"We are concerned about the future of music as conservatives become more
powerful," said one who did not want to be named.



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