Palestinian Hip Hop Band, DAM, Inspire A Fresh New Sound From The Middle East
DAM are as sincere as they are sarcastic. A movement between political statements, generational humour and musical comradery; it is refreshing to see a band that are unafraid to be seen in their natural light.
Palestinian Hip Hop band, DAM, offer an abundance of personality, humility and passion. Made up of rapper Tamer Nafer, a force to be reckoned with, whose dry sense of humour and passionately profound statements keep any audience on their toes. Singer Maysa Daw, who through her fearless stage presence and stunning vocals offers a musical and lyrical beacon of honesty and self-confidence. And rapper Mahmood Jrere who represents the often-overlooked component of any harmonious family – a calm yet strong presence, rapping with lyrical sincerity and carefully claiming his position on stage, as they all do, by being true to oneself.
The heritage of DAM is one which puts them in the midst of a political tidal wave. All three band members are Palestinians living in the 48, meaning they carry the Israeli ID. Explaining how this impacts their musical identity, Tamer explains that “politics is so built in, its organically there. You cannot ignore Palestinians living inside of Israel - we are so attached to the cause, attached to the reality. But at the same time, we are attached to entertainment. When we are on stage, it's very important that we entertain”. And entertain they most certainly do. A recent tour of the UK and a special guest performance at the BBC Arabic festival allowed a UK based audience to witness the exhilarating levels of energy and passion in their live shows. Performing work from their most recent album due out in June, there is a cross-over of Arabic and Hip Hop beats, spoken word and rap, dreamlike vocals and choral chants. A sound which the band describes as fresh.
The celebration of being Arabic is juxtaposed by a continual questioning of the culture within DAM’s lyrics, bringing to the forefront a wish to challenge the status quo. The topics which DAM explores in their work confidently taps into a current wave of global conversations. For a global audience to engage in the translation of the Arabic lyrics is an educational and beneficial experience of music from this part of the world. As they explain, “content wise, you have three people coming from the Middle East talking about women's rights, sexuality, religion and atheism in a free way. About LGBT, Black Lives Matter and Palestinian rights all at the same time”.
A clear example of this freedom of expression can be seen in the poignant lyrics of Jasadik-Hom (Your Body of Theirs), a poetically driven account of how female bodies are critiqued and mistreated in comparisons to the male. Maysa, the first female member to join DAM, leads the performance with spine-tingling strength and honesty. She explains how “the process of the album writing for all of us was new. Two amazing lyricists and an amazing producer meant I learnt a lot from this process. For the first time, we gathered in a group and teamed up. It was really interesting musically”. DAM’s celebration of each other as individual musicians is what makes them such a strong group of artists. Each one is their own solo vocalist, whilst also working as each other’s backing singer. When you break down the idea of the band, this seems to be an essential method for unified expression, and this extends beyond the three vocalists. Continually working with a cycle of musicians, DJs and producers, DAM reflects a community of artists all using their creativity to share in a cultural movement.
Connecting to DAM’s Hip Hop Arabic beats and sharing in universal conversations that matter is what makes this band stand out so strongly. As Tamer puts it “I think its fucking interesting when you put a black Palestinian Panther voice inside of a fresh Doctor Drey, Itamar Ziegler beat”. The result is intoxicating. Out of sincere yet tongue-in-cheek dialogue appears a massive amount of raw character, personality and sass. DAM claims its space in the musical scene and provides a future for many more musicians following in their footsteps.