Uncertain States Mazzaj Rap Band
The Mazzaj Rap band, now living in exile, is one of the most radical and politically engaged Syrian groups in a small but vibrant scene which still continues today. The band formed in Tartus in 2007 when Mohammad Abu Hajar, who started rapping in 2004, joined forces with Alaa Odeh and Hazem Zghaibe. They have now been joined in exile by a lifelong friend of Abu Hajar, Ahmad Niou, and together with Alaa Zaitounah, Zaher Alkaei and Matteo Di Santis have created their new Mazzaj Raboratory project in Berlin.
Mohammad Abu Hajar and his band members derive from the classic Arabic music tradition. Syria is primarily a center for Sufi music, which Mohammad Abu Hajar explicitly refers to. His father, who was captured in a Syrian prison for six years under Assad, is a Professor for Classic Arabic Literature and now lives in exile in Amman. Hoping for liberation from the dictatorship, Abu Hajar belongs to the young generation of Syrians who are fighting for democratization and freedom.
He had to leave Syria in order to survive. By way of confronting Europe's asylum policy, the heteronomy of racism and eurocentrism, as well as the brutal destruction of his Syrian culture, he was forced to employ an aggressive and contemporary language for his poems, songs and music: rap.
Mohammad Abu Hajar's journey from Syria to Berlin is also addressed in the video "Homeland" from Halil Altindere, which was produced for the last Berlin Biennale.
Mohammad Abu Hajar's verses (PDF download)