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Lyrics Revolt

Dirs: Torah Production. Qatar-Syria-Palestine-France-Lebanon. 2012. 52mins

A thoroughly engrossing delve into the impact of young rappers, hip-hop artists, and beat-boxers had – and are having - on the pro-democracy movement through the Arab world. According to these young musicians, who perform in both Arabic and English, their music has become the soundtrack to the Arab Spring, with their poetical lyrics talking about social equality and striking a chord with both the young generation along with older listeners brought up on a Arabic tradition of poetry.

Lyrics Revolt packs a lot of punch in its small-scale format, and offers an at times exhilarating look at music of the resistance.

Though running under an hour – which naturally limits theatrical exposure – Lyrics Revolt deserves to be a regular player at international films festivals (it has its world premiere at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival) and should appeal to broadcasters, either on music or arts channels. As one young rapper comments – the music is “the rhythm of resistance”.

The four women directors (Shannon Farhoud a Canadian; Melanie Fridgant who is French; Rana Al Khatib who is Palestinian, and Ashlene Ramadan who is Lebanese.) made the film as a collective and are all recent graduates of Northwestern University in Qatar, and together they have done an impressive job in capturing leading Arab artists who employ a political edge of hip hop during this turbulent period in the region.

The rappers and hip-hop artists interviewed are from all over the region, but are united in the opinion that their music  is the “soundtrack of the Arab Spring”, or as Egyptian rappers Kareem Adel Eissa and Mohammed El Deeb call it, a “poem for the people.”

Lebanese rapper Malikah says: “we are really talking about what we went through…before the revolution we were talking about social inequality and lack of freedom of speech.” Other musicians interviewed include Egyptian beatboxer Farah Abdel Lahf, Libyan rapper Khaled M, Saudi Arabian rapper Qusai, Tunisian rapper El General and many more.

There is debate about whether they should perform in English or Arabic (English can reach a different audience, but – as one rapper stresses – “Arab poetry offers a weight of words”) but they are united in using music as a weapon of sorts to unite people, especially the younger generation.

Though in many ways a traditional documentary in structure, Lyrics Revolt packs a lot of punch in its small-scale format, and offers an at times exhilarating look at music of the resistance.

Production company/sales contact: Torah Media Production, 37463 44834955

Executive producer: Razan Al-Shaffi

Main cast: Karim Abdel Eissa, Mohamed El Deeb, Lynn Fattouh (Malikah), Farah Medhat, DJ Lethal Skillz, Khaled M

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