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Morocco: When Arabs Rock

Usually at this time of the year in Morocco, a series of festivals and cultural events that mark the eminence of the summer begin. They are annual gatherings that attract a growing number of artists, local and international alike.

This year is no exception.

Rock God by Bring Back Buck

Rock God by Bring Back Buck in Flickr

The music scene seems to be flourishing with a plethora of local Rap, Rock, Fusion and even Heavy Metal music bands already jostling around for an audience.

Moroccan Board, a news portal aimed at Moroccan Americans and covering a wide range of issues related to Morocco, describes the growing popularity of the Hip Hop genre in the kingdom, and conducts an interview with Moroccan American rapper, RS-LOU:

Moroccan Hip Hop as a music genre has gained much popularity among the youth in recent years in Morocco. You now have recognizable names such as Casa Crew, H-Kayen, AlFaress, Fnaire, and the list goes on. There is also a group of artists that operates from outside of Morocco. RS-LOU is such example.

Blogging on the Huffington Post, Mohsin Mohi-Ud Din, a musician and activist currently conducting a Fullbright Project in Tangier, northern Morocco, finds out that “Arabs do Rock” and explains how he got himself into an unusual setting:

I witnessed a crazy show by the Moroccan Metal band called WANTED in the Cinema Rif. The place was packed. Young Arabs wearing crazy hoodies and Korn and AC/DC t-shirts, rocking out.

The young Arab rock fans here are no different from the routy, bored, confused teen rockers in America. Yet, there is something really cool and special about seeing a girl wearing the conservative head covering (Hijab) who throws up the universal Metal/Rock sign with her hands!

It is worth mentioning that the Heavy Metal scene in Morocco has been decimated back in 2003 when a court in Casablanca jailed 14 musicians on charges of Satanism and offending Islam. The move prompted protests from human rights groups and forced the authorities to drop the charges. It seems that the Metal scene is only now beginning to recover with a new generation of Moroccan youth tuning to Heavy Metal again.

Earlier this year, a documentary unambiguously called “I Love Hip Hop in Morocco,” set the tone for the days and years ahead, as the blog From Warp to Weft points out:

Featuring Moroccan Hip Hop artists like DJ Key, H-Kayne, Fnaïre, MC Bigg, Brownfingaz, Mot de Passe, FatiShow, this film delves into the “thoughts and dreams of the true future of the Arab world– it's youth.”

Postscript: by the time this post was submitted, news agengies reported that at least 11 people were killed and 30 wounded on Saturday night, 23 April, during a music concert in Rabat at the Mawazine Music Festival, after a wire fence collapsed.

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