ShaoDowFor decades, global rap/hip hop music has been a preeminent sound of expression that has forged a unified front in drawing awareness to the struggle, putting a face and identity to a story drawn from the spirit of revolution, or strengthening ties that extend across continents, painting a colorful picture of a cultural landscape foreign to many of us.  Behind desolate walls of silence often emerges a cadence of hope, anger, knowledge and unity, co-authored by the youthful tenets of modern day liberalism.  This culture, often cast as the de facto “underdog” in its native sense, continues to grow in influence.

But where did it start? And how did this cultural trend evolve in such places as Argentina, Armenia, Germany, Australia, and other countries? Simple. The revolution is no longer televised… it is digitized.

So, in keeping up with some new trends going on around Day & a Dream headquarters – from the new cat spitting digital words here (“ahem”) to a few cosmetic digital changes like the new translation bar + a few annoying ads – let’s take a look at some of my personal favorite foreign songs/videos that simply confirm everyone’s thinking:

“Hip hop is a global digital movement.”

-or-

“We don’t know WTF these rappers are saying, but damn that shit bang.”

(Pick your position)

Shadia Mansour (Palestine)

shadiaConsidered “The First Lady of Arabic Hip Hop,” Shadia Mansour was one of the first female emcees to catch my ears, when I read a British article that claimed that Mansour committed a “musical intifada.”  Born in South London, Mansour first started singing at the age of five or six, often accompanying her parents at pro-Palestinian rallies in London as a child.  Inspired by classical Arabic singers such as Lebanese artist Fairouz and Egypt’s Mohammed Abdel Wahab, she moved towards hip-hop in her teens.

Not only is she very attractive and wise, but also a solid word spitter, enlisting M1 of Dead Prez on “El Kofeyye 3Arabeyye,” almost a throwback song, but one inspired by her passion for liberation and equality… with a hook that just draws you in.  She chooses to rap in Arabic even though English is her first language.  With a tremendous rhyme flow, she often performs wearing a traditional Palestinian thawb, as much of her music focuses on Middle East politics.  And if the song doesn’t catch you… the hook most definitely will.

Now these dogs are starting to wear it as a trend
No matter how they design it, no matter how they change its color
The keffiyeh is Arab, and it will stay Arab
The scarf, they want it
Our intellect, they want it
Our dignity, they want it
Everything that’s ours, they want it
We won’t be silent, we won’t allow it
It suits them to steal something that ain’t theirs and claim that it is…
– Shadia Mansour, “Al Kufiya Arabiya (The keffiyeh is Arab)

 Nate57 (Germany)

nate57Nate57 (government name is Nathan Pedreira) is an Angolan-German rapper that connects with me in a special way. In a country known for beer and bratwursts, Octoberfest, BMWs, birthday cake candles, and Groundhog Day, it would only be fitting that someone would create a lane for a proper rebellious movement one day. In the late 80’s to early 90’s, cats kept fucking it up… as splintered groups of wannabe Nazi skinheads made an attempt to be the voice of the voiceless, but more often than not, these cats ended up only scrapping with each other in drunken rages, rebelling against each other more than societal/social ills that were hard to find with the unification of East and West Germany.

Not to mention, Germany is racist in a very weird way. I lived there for 3 years, and as a black dude I never experienced too much of it, except for the time a few young Turks chased me out of a club for trying to spit game at their girlfriends. But if you ask a native to explain the cultural clash? As one German explained to me, looking like an American black dude was more acceptable than looking like an African or mixed black guy. But I awkwardly digress…

Enter Nate57.  His lyrical inspiration is TuPac, yet he embodies the spirit of the struggle, growing up in a lower class neighborhood, as a lower class citizen, and mixed… he was an underdog, which reminds me of one of America’s cultural icons. Here’s a hint:

In west Hamburg born and raised
On the playground where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys, they were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
And said “You need to start spitting lyrics or GTFOH”

But I digress…

Nate57 did experience a struggle akin to the parody. To escape the “underdog” struggle, Nate57 got together with his brother Blacky White, and together they would start spitting gangsta lyrics in local clubs, then across Germany, with nothing much more than a beatbox and a newfound swag. As his buzz began to grow, Blacky White founded the record label Ratto Locos Records, and in spring 2008 his first mixtape Welcome to St. Pauli dropped, which wasn’t too bad. Offered as a free download, Nate57 followed up in 2009 with another free mixtape Crazy Rat, and this began his very peculiar and meteoric rise in Germany. And when I say very peculiar… trust that this ascension is a little more peculiar than Black Peter sipping on rieslings.

How peculiar?

With very little promo and most of his early videos consisting of nothing more than images fading in and out, within 3 years this cat has churned out several free mixtapes, bought an HD camera for creating better videos, and just like that, his next two albums placed highly. He has now amassed over 10,000,000 YouTube views (collectively), with his 2013 release End of Sight reaching #11 in German album charts… all in a span of just over 3 years?!

And dude continues to kept it gangsta, with a TuPac inspired flow.  Ever heard ‘Gangsta Party’ in Dutch? Check him out here.

Shaodow (UK)

ShaoDow-600x400One of my favorite rappers not born on US soil, I have followed Shaodow since 2007, when I interviewed him just when he started to trend as an independent artist.  I once had this dream of spitting digital wax, and as most young artists look up to those that embody the spirit of their favorite rapper, there are so many attributes to Shaodow that not only make him one of those cats I would aspire to be like, but his moxy reads like a fairy tale.

Shaodow traveled alone from the UK to practice kung fu as an 18 year old – in China’s famed Shaolin Temple, David Carradine style.  Seriously b.  He emerged from the origin of Zen well-balanced, and while legend has it that it was Dharma who created the Shaolin Martial Arts, it is ShaoDow who created a style of rap that comes from… well, a place that I could only describe as a cross between RZA and Busta Rhyme. And the mystique of ShaoDow doesn’t stop here… dude actually got me into practicing yoga.

ShaoDow also graduated from college with a Law Degree.  As he carefully plotted the path towards becoming his own business entrepreneur, he developed a passion for becoming a multi-genre artist, delivering intelligent, witty, often razor sharp lyricism mixed with hard hitting, bass driven, commercial sounding beats.  More than a full time rapper, ShaoDow has emerged from the shadows as a true music business entrepreneur.

Shaodow has scoured the UK, from Great Britain to Scotland, and neighboring countries — literally — with a backpack filled with his CDs, independently promoting and selling over 14,500 copies of his CD while sharing the stage with luminaries like TechN9ne, Devlin, Giggs and Wiley.

“Kung Fu Hustler” is ShaoDow’s second album, now available for pre-order at the DIY Gang Shop.

How far has ShaoDow risen from the shadows? Here’s a bonus video… one of ShaoDow’s first…

Stay tuned for more as I keep you internets posted on other rap artists from around the globe.

If you know of any that I should feature, hit me up here.

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