Music, the solution to political warfare?

Music, the solution to political warfare?

By Cesilia Faustina

Photography by Cesilia Faustina

Mohammad Al-Jamal (Jay) is a political rapper and Jordanian-Palestinian based in Amman, Jordan

 

“We grew up in an area that’s full of actions happening around. So, it makes us who we are basically. It makes politics and war, I guess, part of who we are.”

 

Music functions as a tool to convey a message and create change for a country and nation, according to one Jordanian-Palestinian.

“It is my way of expressing my ideas and my feelings — through rap,” Jay said.

“In the Middle East, we’re having such a hard and interesting political situation happening for the longest time.”

Mohammad Al-Jamal — also known by his stage name Jay — is a Jordanian-Palestinian and member of hip hop group Arab MCs based in Amman, Jordan.

Coming from Palestinian origins, the political rapper wants to create awareness about Palestine’s current conditions and conflicts.

“I’m a Jordanian from Palestinian origin — which is like 70 percent of people living here, basically,” he said.

“Our zone — the zone that we live in — has a lot of action, so, it will shape the way that we grow up.

“We grew up in a war zone; we grew up in an area that’s full of actions happening around. So, it makes us who we are basically.

“It makes politics and war, I guess, part of who we are.”

Jordan consists of a number of Palestinian nationals and or of Palestinian origins with many Palestinian refugees coming in since the rise of Israel in 1948.

According to the Jordan Times, out of the total Jordanian population, 30.6 percent consists of non-Jordanian nationals — which also include 6.65 percent of unregistered Palestinians.

Jay said he wanted to express the hardships of his region from the use of his music and lyrics.

 

“The major point is that to push people to question things; to not to obey systems; to use their own minds to know more; to read; to explore; to push towards freedom.”

 

“In the Middle East we’re having such a hard and interesting political situation happening for years,” he said.

“So, it was my way of expressing my ideas and my feelings through rap.

“Through my lyrics, I’m trying to, first of all, entertain, but that’s not the major point.

“The major point is that to push people to question things; to not to obey systems; to use their own minds to know more; to read; to explore; to push towards freedom.”

The Jordanian-Palestinian said he mostly wrote about the current living conditions of the country and region, as well as youth involvement within current political divides.

“Youth situations, or in general, people’s situation living around here,” he said.

“A major thing I’m writing about, and I always write about, is the Palestinian issue.

“Palestine, because it lives in us. We never could live in Palestine, but it lives in us.

“We grew up loving Palestine and knowing it as we live in it. So, it adds as a huge part of my writing.”

 

The story behind the music

“Starting a revolution doesn’t start in the streets always. It starts in libraries; it starts in books; it starts in reading and opening minds.”

 

“That’s what I’m trying to accomplish and push, you know — change, basically.”

 

Jay said he started his love for rap through his friend and the other half of Arab MCs Abdallah Al Bakheet.

“I used to listen to a lot of rap — more than ten years ago — and my best friend, Abdullah started rapping to a friend,” he said.

“He came to me and introduced me to Arabic rap.“

The rapper said he had always written about politics having grown up in a very politically-charged region.

“I think I didn’t actually have a choice, to be honest, because, as, like, a writer, you can’t write something you cannot feel, you cannot relate to,” he said.

“Basically, once I started moving my pen, it was politics from day one.”

As a musician, the Jordanian-Palestinian wanted to create a change for his community and region — hoping to raise awareness about the importance of current political situations and rights.

“To make people start being revolutionary but in the right way,” he said.

“Starting a revolution doesn’t start in the streets always, it starts in libraries; it starts in books; it starts in reading and opening minds.

“That’s what I’m trying to accomplish and push, you know — change, basically.  

“There’s a huge amount of ignorance and close-minded people, because of culture and religion and habits that are happening — I’m trying to break through that.”

 

Will it make a difference?

“I want to influence thousands or hundreds of thousands of people or at least change one mind — both of those are good enough, but I just want to keep doing music because it’s what I love to do.”

 

Despite the challenges, music is the path he would like to pursue

 

The activist said though he continued to fight for his beliefs and music, it was not always an easy task — especially in Jordan.

“It’s bad, there’s not much of a crowd in here; Jordan is a small place,” he said.

“I’d like to spread my music globally or at least the Middle East; get a bigger audience.

“In Jordan, we have a very tough crowd and it’s hard to be a continuous artist because you have to make a living besides making art — because making art doesn’t pay shit.

“You also have to stay focused and still believe and love what you do, otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to continue.”

Jay said he would like to continue his efforts out of Jordan and create a more global fanbase.

“I’m planning working abroad, I’m applying for a lot of music festivals outside,” he said.

“I’m trying, I’m working on my media page professionally now because I wasn’t good at it, I’m still not good at it, so I’m hiring someone to do that for me.

“So I can spread my music more professionally, not like the old school way.”

Despite the hardships faced, Jay saw music as something he would like to continue to do in the long-run.

“Music is me, actually,” he said.

“It made me who I am, because, when I walk in the street, they don’t say this is Mohammad Al-Jamal, they say ‘Yo, this is the rapper. This is Jay.’ — the music identity of Mohammad Al-Jamal.

“It’s made me who I am, basically. I am the rapper. So, music made me.

“I want to influence thousands or hundreds of thousands of people or at least change one mind — both of those are good enough, but I just want to keep doing music because it’s what I love to do.”

“Keep going forward, because life will beat us up,” Jay added.

“The only thing we learn that we should and we can do is to keep going forward.

“You just keep going forward and hope for a better day. That’s it. Stay strong.”

 

“You just keep going forward and hope for a better day. That’s it. Stay strong.”

 

About

Mohammad Al-Jamal (Jay) is a member of a political rap group based in Amman, Jordan. The group consists of himself and his partner Abdallah Al Bakheet. The rapper mostly covers music regarding Palestine and current political situations within the region, aiming to create awareness about the region’s current developments.

Help show your support by checking out their Facebook and YouTube channel. Also feel free to check out their music via Soundcloud.

 

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