I recently came across a song called “#Syria” by Omar Offendum. Omar Offendum is a Syrian American who was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Washington D.C. He is a very popular Arab Hip-Hop artist and activist, who has become known for producing music with strong political implications. His song “#Syria” is no different—the repetitive chant that acts as the chorus in this song says, “The People Want The Downfall Of The Regime” obviously referring to Al-Assad’s regime in Syria today. Offendum describes how he hopes his music will promote continued peaceful protest and keep the spirits of these protesters up.

It is extremely interesting to me to see how political and motivating Arab Hip-Hop can be in situations like this. We see American artists make political statements in their music all of the time, but it is not to this extent. Offendum uses a very interesting tactic of placing a hash-tag (#) in the title of the song, because he knows the power of twitter and other social media outlets can play in the spreading information. The song also has English verses along with Arabic verses in order to reach a larger audience in hopes to unite a massive following towards this cause. It is amazing to see the power that something like music can have on a nation, just as it was amazing to see the impact of political cartoons a few weeks ago.

Below is a link to the song and video that goes along with it. The combination of the song and powerful images that go with it makes for an extremely strong message.  I can only imagine the feelings a song like this can instill in someone who’s life is engulfed in this conflict.


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4 Responses to #Syria

  1. Did you know that Omar Offendum was at Tufts around this time last year? He performed at the Campus Center, and even his mother was present! He told us some personal details about himself– he was raised in Washington DC. He also shared his musical inspirations with us, and mentioned Umm Khalthoum as one of them! He gave me and my friend a free copy of his CD. Interestingly enough, #Syra isn’t the only Omar Offendum song with a hashtag in front of it. There is another one called #Jan25, named after the Egyptian Arab Spring uprisings. Here is a link to the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sCbpiOpLwFg. Let me know if you want to borrow his CD!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. I actually got to listen to him last year when he came to Tufts and I thought he was amazing. I really like the use of English and Arabic in this song. It allows the song to have an international draw to it, and even though Omar Offendum was born in the United States, he understands the oppression that Syrians are going through. I could see this song as well as other work Offendum has in an international public sphere.

    Interesting fact, Offendum was interview on Al Jazeera English about his song #Jan25.
    Here’s the link to the interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSLWbIMxd88&feature=related

  3. Rachel Ison says:

    I also think the use of a hash tag in his song titles is really significant. In a way, he is directing the listeners to use social media, namely Twitter, to spread this message. I wonder if, when he released these songs (#Syria and #Jan25), they started trending on Twitter. It would be interesting to see the actual effect of Offendum’s intentions. This is another way we see the various platforms of social media intersecting in relation to the Arab Spring.

  4. I think its really interesting how he sings “The people united will never be defeated” while in the background, you can hear the Arabic chant “the people want the fall of the regime.” The English chant is one that has been used in protests around the world, especially recently during occupy protests in America, and therefore is able to connect the Arabic chants to foreigner listeners, linking their struggles with those of the Arab Spring. Omar Offendum could have just chanted “the people want the fall of the regime” in English, but he chose to do a different chant, one that people know and can identify with. This further shows that he is aware of both Arab and western cultures, and skillfully ties the two together in his work.

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