It’s no secret that Arab hip-hop emerged from Palestine. It was, after all, Palestinian artists who first used Western beats most often associated with black American artists to produce tracks with the aim of resisting the occupation forces. Music has always been the people’s medium, a way for them to rally, reclaim ownership of their narratives, and send them out into the world to be felt and understood in the most intangible of ways.
It makes the most sense that BLTNM, a Palestinian label built on taking the piss out of the apartheid state and representing its people, is dominating the hip-hop scene in the MENA region. Ever since its foundation in 2015, BLTNM has been producing increasingly revolutionary tracks, many of which have become anthems to Arab youth all over the globe.
This morning, BLTNM announced the formation of a new triad, R3D, consisting of Shabjdeed, Daboor, and a fresh face, Ramadan. Of course, it’s not a BLTNM project if Al Nather isn’t in on it. R3D made its debut with a deliriously sick self-titled 3-track EP.
The first track, Ramadan, is a slow-burning banger, that somehow makes you want to get up and dance your ass off with that traditionally-Arab orchestral riff and the minimal drums. The lyrics are, surprisingly, soulful. The following track, Ma Bijish, has drum and bass elements with a winding melodic synth throughout. The EP finale, Bi Balash, is closer to the usual aggressive sound of Shabjdeed and BLTNM, with its heavy bass but slow-paced trap.
As Al-Nather would say, “If Israeli soldiers start shooting, we won’t stop the interview.”