The Rap Music of Lebanon’s ‘You Stink’ Movement

Ever since a garbage crisis lifted the lid on a myriad of longstanding grievances brought about by endemic corruption and ineptitude, Lebanon has been in a whirl of mass movement and mobilisation reminiscent of those early, heady days of the Arab Spring. Through its ebbs and flows, the turbulence has provided a platform for Lebanese citizens to express their dissatisfaction with how their country is run.  This has also translated into music, with many Levantine rap artists not only heavily involved with events on the ground, but also reflecting it through their music.

El Rass has been one of the biggest proponents of this grassroots campaign to hold the country’s politicians to account, and in wake of the events released two collaborations with Naserdayn Touffar  titled Nahnu Wl Zabl Jeeran ‘We and the Rubbish are neighbours’  and Bein El’Asa Wl Skeen ‘Between the stick and the knife’. There would be a third track, Al’Ama Alwan ‘Color Blind’ with Palestinian producer/rapper Muqata’a on board.

Meanwhile, Jean elZein came out with Zb Ajal ‘Police Baton’, which railed against the heavy handed tactics of security forces used against protestors. Edd Abbas separately released Nizameh Mush Nizameh ‘My system is not my system’  before the two artists collaborated on a third track, Moukhade3 ‘Trickster’, produced by Lipos.

All these artists have often touched on such subjects in their previous material, so it was not a stretch that unfolding events in Lebanon would seep into their music, and in doing so provide a counterpoint – and reflective timeline – for a movement that began from the ground up.

You can hear all these tracks in one playlist on Dandin here.

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