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The Sound of Resistance: 7 Artists Using Music to Demand Justice for Palestine

From Saint Levant to Kehlani

From jazz’s role in heightening social consciousness about the systematic mistreatment of Black people to punk’s defiant demand for freedom from societal pressures, music has consistently been at the forefront of social change. Today, artists from around the globe are harnessing their creative prowess to call for a ceasefire amidst the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the relentless violence across Palestine. From rappers to RnB crooners, below, a selection of tracks by artists like Kehlani and Elyanna, each unified by a singular purpose: to convey the urgent message of a Free Palestine. 

‘Deira’ by Saint Levant & MC Abdul 

Titled Deira, the track is named after the Al Deira Hotel in Gaza, reflecting Saint Levant’s (Marwan Abdelhamid) connection to his ancestral home. Known as “the Gaza Strip’s diamond in the rough” by Time Magazine, the hotel symbolizes Palestinian resilience, having endured years of conflict.

In Deira, Saint Levant explores themes of identity, blending his Algerian and Palestinian roots, while MC Abdul’s heartfelt verses add depth. At just 15, Abdul’s powerful lines express his love for his homeland, declaring, “Even though I travel the world, there is nothing like Palestine.” This collaboration serves as a poignant homage to Gaza and the enduring spirit of its people.

Alongside this track, Saint Levant has also unveiled his debut album, Deira. This 8-track project pays homage to his own upbringing and delves into personal themes such as love, displacement, identity, and culture.

‘Next 2 U’ by Kehlani 

While the simmering RnB track doesn’t directly tackle the conflict, US RnB artist Kehlani expresses her solidarity with Palestinians in the accompanying music video.

The video opens with a poignant quote from Palestinian-American poet Hala Aylan: “Keep your moon/We have our own/Keep your army/We have our name/Keep your flag/We have fruit and in/All the right colours.” Following this, the video features the popular Palestinian protest slogan “long live the intifada (long live the uprising).”

Kehlani then delivers her performance, accompanied by dancers wearing suits adorned with the keffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian scarf. The choreography also prominently features the Palestinian flag.

In an Instagram post announcing the video, Kehlani revealed that the production crew was made up of Palestinians.

“As an artist, I was nervous, terrified, worried after losing so much of what I valued for an album,” she shared. “I worked incredibly hard on my humanity, paired with the crippling wonder of what music is appropriate to drop during the most historical tragedies of our generation.”

She adds, “I remembered my favorite revolutionary poets, singers, filmmakers. I remembered how much impact we have. I thought about my favorite James Baldwin quotes about the role of an artist in society. I listened to this song enough to recognize a love song is a protector’s song and is a revolution.”

‘Gaza is Calling’ by Mustafa the poet 

Mustafa the Poet has consistently spoken out about the devastating humanitarian crises in Gaza and Sudan. In the past, he joined forces with Palestinian journalist and activist Mohammed El-Kurd and Stormzy for a benefit concert supporting both regions, always seeking ways to make a difference.

Recently, he released a teaser for his new song titled Gaza is Calling. The proceeds from this track will be donated to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. The song, which took over two years to create, features Palestinian model Bella Hadid and MC Abdul.

‘Hind’s Hall’ by Macklemore

The pro-Palestinian student rallies shaking up US universities this year inspired rapper Macklemore’s new track.

The title refers to the name Columbia University students gave Hamilton Hall, which they occupied last month to demand an end to the Israel-Gaza War. The name honors six-year-old Palestinian Hind Rajab, who was killed in the conflict.

Set against a backdrop of thudding percussion and a bluesy guitar loop, Macklemore depicts the war as part of a broader generational, racial, and class struggle. He criticizes US politicians, tech companies, and law enforcement for stifling the voices of a youth increasingly aware of their rights.

“We sell fear around the land of the free, but this generation here is about to cut the strings,” he raps. “You can ban TikTok, take us out of the algorithm. But it’s too late, we’ve seen the truth, we bear witness.”

Macklemore also addresses accusations of anti-Semitism against student protesters, asserting that the fight for Palestine’s freedom is a universal cause. “We see the lies in them. Claiming it’s anti-Semitic to be anti-Zionist,” he raps. “I’ve seen Jewish brothers and sisters out there and riding in solidarity and screaming ‘Free Palestine’ with them.”

In announcing the track on his social media, Macklemore committed to donating all proceeds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

 ‘Rajeen’ by Various Artists 

The nearly eight-minute opus brings together 25 Arab artists, who lend their voices to an evocative production crafted by Jordanian producer Nasir Al Bashir, with contributions from Egyptian talents Marwan Moussa and Amr Shomali.

Among the featured artists are two of the Arab world’s most prominent hip-hop figures, Afroto and Marwan Pablo from Egypt. They are joined by Jordanian viral sensation Issam Alnajjar, Syrian singer-songwriter Ghaliaa Chaker, and Tunisian vocalist Balti.

Each artist delivers poignant, concise verses that vividly portray Palestine’s ongoing struggle for independence. The track crescendos with Alnajjar’s stirring chorus of resilience and hope.

“The key to my home remains in my heart / And I’m returning with my children in my arms,” he sings with palpable emotion. “Even if the whole world stands against me / I am returning, O my country, I am returning.”

‘96 Miles From Bethlehem’ by Belly 

Described as “a soundtrack detailing the gift, curse, and fate of being Palestinian,” Belly’s fourth studio album is a deeply personal and musical journey. Named after his birthplace, Jenin—located 96 miles from Bethlehem—the album is presented as “the culmination of a lifetime of experiences.”

The album encapsulates Belly’s entire journey to date, serving as a sonic plea for resistance. It features a rich array of collaborators, including Palestinian artists Saint Levant, Elyanna, and MC Abdul, alongside Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, and more

‘Ghosn Zeytoun’ by Elyanna

The Palestinian-Chilean singer brought the audience to tears with her performance at the opening ceremony of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival this month.

The song, which means “Olive Branch,” is an emotive ballad capturing the helplessness of those watching the tragedy from a distance.

“Words aren’t enough, what else can I say?” She sings. “My tears have dried out, and my heart is broken / I’m far away, but I’m praying for you.

“And I’m sending peace, on an olive branch / In the land of peace, peace is dead / And the world is sleeping on a hurt child.”

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