Palestinian artists will no longer be silenced. Independent record label and collective BLTNM is proving it. As part of the local, young movement of artists who are rising up the ranks, they’re disrupting the status quo.
Making music out of Ramallah, Shabjdeed, Al Nather and Shabmouri are re-imagining the sound of their city. Their music is always powerfully sincere and genuine, but still challenges the tired cliché of protest rap, offering a fresh new perspective from the stereotypical music that people might associate with the occupied country.
It’s true that making music in Palestine almost always somehow ends up being political, and without any industry structures in place, building a sustainable career can be extremely challenging. But BLTNM is setting the precedent. 2020 is about to be a big year for the group.
Thanks to Ma3azef, they’ve been touring across the region this Fall, from Tunis to Sharjah. “It was beyond our expectations”, says 21-year-old Shabmouri before adding, “seeing people knowing and singing with us, the words of every song in Palestinian dialect was mad”.
For their latest music video entitled ‘From Ramallah to Jerusalem and Back’ released earlier this month, they collaborated with Parisian director Hannah Rosselin. “We wanted to tell their story, making sure we stayed away from the miserabilism the world often associates with the region”, she says.
Bringing together two of their recent tracks (‘Mtaktak’ and ‘Shabjdeed 2’), the short film captures the everyday lives of young Palestinians by taking to the streets of both cities. “It was an adrenaline-filled and risky experience that turned into magic the moment we exported it”, informs Shabmouri.
Watch it now.
Feature photography by @omarsha3