Since last year, London has seen a slew of the region’s favorite artists perform live in front of an audience that has been frustrated with not being able to dance or rap back to lyrics from their native homelands.
In the past six months alone, part-Palestinian sensation Saint Levant, RnB hitmaker Bayou, and Moroccan flag-bearers Small X, Khtek, and Dizzy Dross all braved England’s cold and low temperatures to belt out their most popular tracks to an energetic crowd that clearly want more. Lucky for them, the streak of Arab artists paying their UK fans a visit won’t be ending anytime soon as Ramallah-based record label BLTNM is set to bring some of its signed talents to headline a blowout event taking place this Jan. 28 in the British capital, three-months after their UK debut back in October.
Held under the auspices of MARSM, a UK-based events company that propagates culture from the Arab world across England, attendees will be able to witness a couple of the Levant’s most famed and streamed lyricists get on the mic in the heart of East London, at Oslo Hackney to be precise. Retailing at $35, tickets granting access to the exclusive event will include back-to-back performances from Shabjdeed and Daboor, alongside fellow BLTNM MC Fawzi as well as Jordanian producer Taymour.
Since its conception, BLTNM has established itself as one of the region’s most prominent record labels, widely considered as the main institution pushing Palestinian artists to create. Recognized for their disruptive approach and celebrated for their gender-bending vision of music, the music collective has created some of the most influential and impactful tracks the region has seen in recent years, generating daunting numbers of views upon each release. One of their most striking hits includes In Ann, which amassed over 65 million streams across platforms, and has, with time, become an anthem for Palestinian resistance and a symbol of strength and resilience.
Bringing more light and attention to the region’s entire music industry, which is still far too overlooked, this weekend’s event in London will allow the artists to share their stories, culture, and struggles with a wider audience, and aid in building transcultural bridges between different communities that want to send support to those sitting on the front line. In a world where marginalized communities often go unseen and unheard, representation is a crucial step towards creating more inclusive narratives and dialogues, allowing individuals, in this case Palestinians, to see themselves and their experiences reflected in the world around them and the one they can’t travel to due to constraining geopolitical restrictions (abolish VISA systems!)