Monday, April 24, 2006

How Do You Say Shizzle Mah Nizzle In Pashto Or Dari?

From the timesonline of the UK
Gangsta rapper of Kabul puts peace before guns 'n' girls

WITH his fur-lined Puffa jacket, silver pendant chain, bandana, neatly trimmed goatee beard and combat trousers, DJ Besho looks like any other gangsta rapper.

In his music video DJ Besho, meaning DJ Diamond, stands on the bonnet of a Humvee, rapping. It is there that the similarities with the gangsta rappers of Los Angeles and New York end. There are no girls in bikinis gyrating in the background and no references to guns, drugs and prostitutes.

This is Afghanistan and five years after the fall of the Taleban the country’s first rapper is still constrained by a tight social code. “We have to take it step by step. It will be a while before I can introduce ‘booty shaking’ to Afghanistan,” said the 28-year-old, referring to a type of dancing where scantily clad girls wiggle their behinds.

When he was ten years old, he saw his best friend killed by a rocket. “It was my best friend, Jawad, and a rocket hit him in the neck. He died,” he said.

It was this tragedy, one of many in a country hit by almost three decades of war, that prompted DJ Besho and his family to leave Afghanistan. They moved first to India, then China, followed by Russia, before finally settling outside Frankfurt. It was in Germany that he picked up his rapping skills.

DJ Besho now spends his time between Germany and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan he has a contract with the nation’s most popular TV station, Tolo TV, a sort of MTV meets Bollywood, and his videos are a frequent and popular showing. In Germany he has a “crew” of German and Afghan rappers who act as his support act and bodyguards.

“In Germany I have bodyguards but here [in Afghanistan] only God is my bodyguard,” said the rapper who, like many of his fellows, has started his own clothing line.

Living in so many countries has had an influence on his rapping style. “I rap mainly in Dari, but also German, Hindi and English.”

In Afghanistan the message that DJ Besho preaches is a positive one. He counts Tupac Shakur, who was killed in a gang feud, as his biggest influence. “God blessed me, my style is a mixture of gangsta and life,” he said. “The people here are used to fighting but I teach against war, to not fight their brothers, to respect everyone. They should only fight with their raps, not their fists or with guns. The country needs teachers like me.”

He also turns old Afghan love songs into raps. His most popular rap talks about a man’s love for a girl from the provinces who is beautiful with pale skin and magnificent eyes.

There is no doubt that DJ Besho is striking a chord with Afghanistan’s young and he is so popular that President Karzai requested a meeting. DJ Besho, however, was an hour late and missed it.

On the streets, it is common to hear his music. Ahmad Jawid, 23, a mobile phone card salesman, said: “All the people in Afghanistan like him. He is a good rapper, he is amazingly successful and what clothes! I am so proud he is Afghan.”

DJ Besho is aware of his popularity. “Everybody in Afghanistan knows me, I have many friends,” he said.

However, not everyone in Afghanistan seems to be won over by DJ. He has been criticised by Afghanistan’s religious élite. Mullah Abdul Rauf, of the Herati Mosque in Kabul, said: “Music is not banned in Islam but to get enjoyment from music is banned. Singing about women and guns is certainly not allowed.”

As always, DJ Besho has the last word. “This one mullah came to me — he used to be in the Taleban and he was telling me what I was doing was bad. I let him try on some of my clothes and rapped to him, and he was won over.”

Despite all the help that Afghanistan is getting (not enough IMHO) it continues to be one of the poorest countries in the world and low down in a number of developmental aspects, with the status of women and children still nowhere near where it should be and poppy cultivation makes up a significant proportion of the national economy.
I guess stories like this make you feel a bit better, but still I wish we do more for Afghanistan. It gets a fraction of money of what is being poured into Iraq.
Ofcourse some the religious nuts there are upset by his music but when are they not? More power to him for doing what he is doing. Afghanistan has always had a long history of music and the arts.
I for one pray for peace for that troubled land which has seen so much suffering.


Mridula said...

Interesting one, but this clothing line thing always makes me think about stuff I read in a book called 'No Logo.' Have you read it?

karmic_jay said...

No I have not read it. What is it about? Maybe I should google it.

Drunk Blogger said...

I have no idea.

Keshi said...

**Music is not banned in Islam but to get enjoyment from music is banned. Singing about women and guns is certainly not allowed

LOL! A very troubled attitude is the core of a very troubled country :)


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Silvs said...

ooh yeah! I'm sure they can't wait to hear the realhardcore rap.. girls shaking their ass and guns! I mean.. because it's soo great and most of us love it so much!!

I'm Dominincan -- My parents tell me that in Dominican Republic, they banned songs with explicit lyrics from playing in public places or radio -- because a child might hear it . See, I'm all for freedom of speech .. but .. I personaly don't like to hear how you want to "put a cap in my giggly ass" thank you very much!