Immigrant Songs

The high point of our year in Milan was discovering its longstanding hip-hop scene. Not just any artists, but the brilliantly-named MCs Marracash and  Karkadan. Routinely employing cheeky oriental signifiers, both musicians attack typically racist fantasies of predatory Arab outsiders.

Charlie Bertsch wrote an in-depth piece on Karkadan in Zeek on Tuesday, reflecting on the singer’s significance as a multilingual Tunisian immigrant, playing the role of the ‘Post-European.’ Check out the videos. They do a great job of embellishing the complexity of the MC’s music.

Irrespective of how many times I’ve commissioned articles on Arab musicians, in context, it still feels precedent-setting to run these pieces. Part of that has to do with the poor state of music criticism, in general, in Jewish publications. And part of it has to do with identity politics.

The ideological link, for me, is the original  experience of otherness that Jews once had in Europe. The situation of Arab Europeans is unbelievably close. Because of the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, it’s something we tend to forget, precisely when it needs remembering.