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Political rap bursts onto the scene at an Amman club

Published: Updated:
New York-style hip hop culture has emerged onto the Amman scene, with youths rapping about politics and social justice at events such as The Gas Canister.

The Gas Canister was so named to reflect the nation’s frustrations with rising fuel prices, according to the show’s organiser, Amer al-Taher.

“Today the show is called The Gas Canister. We will showcase Arabic rap and spoken poetry, or street poetry. As you can guess from the name - The Gas Canister - the show will focus on the recent increase in fuel prices and we will try and address various local issues as well,” said the music producer and rap artist.

Riots broke out in Jordan at the end of last year after the government decided to raise gasoline, cooking gas and heating fuel prices. Protesters blocked roads, set government buildings alight and vandalised shops in several towns.

Performer Taher has been rapping on the underground scene in the Jordanian capital since 2006. He organized Friday night’s event at a cafe in downtown Amman called Books @ Cafe.

The rap artists that frequent such events say the art form is a useful medium for venting their frustrations with the prevailing situation in Jordan.

“Rap exists as a way to reflect the reality which surrounds us without any censorship. So, if we talk about politics, that is because the political situation is difficult, so we reflect the reality. If the political situation is fine we might not address it at all,” said Taher.

Taher says Arabic rap is a relatively new art form, but is growing in popularity as it offers young people an opportunity to comment on societal problems in a safe environment.

The recent Arab uprisings have given rise to an explosion in various art forms, giving young people a platform to express their grievances.

Over the past two years, Jordanians have held occasional protests, demanding democratic reforms and curbs on corruption.

But the protests sparked by the fuel subsidy cuts were the most violent of several bouts of unrest in the country since Arab uprisings erupted two years ago, toppling autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.