Displays of Solidarity from International Hip-Hop Artists

In early December 2013, Calle 13, a Grammy award-winning Puerto Rican hip-hop group, traveled to the West Bank to produce a music video for their new song “Multi_Viral.” The song, featuring a spoken word interlude from Julian Assange, addresses the issue of media manipulation. The video was shot entirely in Bethlehem and Bayt Sahur. In an interview with the Associated Press, Calle 13 songwriter René Pérez (a.k.a. Residente) explained the impetus for coming to the occupied Palestinian territories, “Here most people want to be free, they fight for their country. . . . It would be good to start building bridges between Palestine and Puerto Rico.”

Jasiri X, a Pittsburgh-based rapper, traveled to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in January 2014 with a delegation of African-American artists and activists that was sponsored by the Carter Center. In a blog post on blackyouthproject.com, he explained that when the delegation passed through the Qalandia checkpoint, he was reminded of his experiences with New York City Police Department’s “stop and frisk” tactics and he began documenting the event on video. The recordings he made at Qalandia, and later at a checkpoint in Hebron, inspired him to write a new song, titled “Checkpoint,” and to use the footage in an accompanying music video.

These two instances of work by hip-hop artists were informed by feelings of solidarity with the Palestinians and are representative of a growing trend. Together, the two videos obtained over one and a half million views on YouTube and have been shared countless times on various social media networks.