Win Tix to 'Mic Check: Hip-Hop From N. Africa & The Middle East' at BAM!

Win a pair to Tickets to 'Mic Check: Hip Hop from North Africa and the Middle East' 7-9th March 2013 to see Shadia Mansour, Deeb, El Général, Amkoullel

This week, some of the dopest Arabic MCs will descend on Brooklyn, NY. BAM has paired up with curator Zeyba Rahman to present Mic Check: Hip-Hop from North Africa and the Middle East to bring Mali's Amkoullel, Egypt's Deeb,  Shadia Mansour from the UK and Palestine, and Tunisia's El Général together to talk about their work, the social and political change sweeping the Arabic-speaking world, and to perform live.

Banned, exiled and imprisoned for their political defiance, these four artists share a commitment to conveying their realities through hip-hop. Okayafrica is giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky winner who'll attend the talk on Thursday March 7th, 7pm and the live show on Saturday March 9th, 7:30pm. To win, tweet us @Okayafrica with hashtag #MicCheckBK by 9AM Thursday 7th. Read a little about the artists here and good luck!


Born in London to Palestinian parents, Shadia Mansour grew up listening to and singing music in Arabic. She began rapping in Arabic 'as a hobby' before deciding to 'claim a voice and identity'. That voice was Arabic and the identity Palestinian. Avoiding the pressure many non-white first-generation Brits feel to call themselves British and nothing else, the young emcee began rapping in Arabic and make representing the daily realities of Palestinian life the driving force of her creative output. Often dubbed the first lady of Arabic hip hop Shadia has collaborated with Narcysist and M1 of Dead Prez.

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Born in Cairo in 1984, Deeb cut his teeth with Egyptian hip hip ground Asfalt. He's been making waves since then and is currently working on his solo EP 'Cairofornia'. He is passionate about hip hop, and his work harnesses the form's power as a 'language for resistance against cultural, ethnic or social discrimination and corruption.' He affords that power to 'the spirit of its roots' in African American culture, paying homage to the black Americans who found power in rap to speak out against oppression. For him the most remarkable thing about the January 25 demonstrations was that Egyptians 'broke the fear barrier'. His music was very much part of the movement; marching with protestors he heard the lyrics to his track 'Stand up Egypt' being sung.

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Amkoullel is one of the best-known hip hop artists out of Mali, and he's been passionate about the form for a long time. At 13 he was banned from Malian radio for his forthright, critical rhymes, and a year later he was using scholarship money to stage his own rap concert. Naturally, he's been very vocal about the situation in northern Mali which he sees as a threat to democracy and Malian sovereignty. In response, he formed the collective Plus Jamais Ça (Never Again), and on April 25th 2012 gathered 1500 people to form a human chain to symbolise solidarity with the population of the North. His track S.O.S. attempts to bring awareness to the gravity of the situation in northern Mali and

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On December 24, 2010 El Général was arrested by the Tunisian police and imprisoned for three days. Two days before, the second of his protest songs - his track 'Tunisia Our Country' - had been released. The first, 'Rais Lebled' an angry protest banger, that addresses the Tunisian head of state (then NAME), has been described as the 'anthem of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution'. Catch this revolutionary while he's around: Mic Check is El Général's US debut.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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