'The King of the Streets': Hip Hop and the Reclaiming of Masculinity in Jerusalem’s Shu’afat Refugee Camp

Citation:

Greenberg, Ela. 2009. “‘The King of the Streets:’ Hip Hop and the Reclaiming of Masculinity in Jerusalem’s Shu’afat Refugee Camp.” Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 2 (2): 231-50.

Author: Ela Greenberg

Abstract:

This paper examines G-Town, a Palestinian hip hop crew from Shu‘afat Refugee Camp in Jerusalem. G-Town is part of a worldwide cultural phenomenon in which marginalized youths borrow and adapt African-American hip hop culture to their socio-political contexts. Their ability to convey authenticity as rap artists comes from living in a refugee camp, where they are exposed to drugs, violence, and limited opportunities. While G-Town uses rap music as a vehicle to express their opposition to the Israeli occupation, they also use rap music to reclaim their masculinity, especially as Palestinian masculinity has become increasingly emasculated by the practices of the occupation. With Tupac Shakur as their model, the members of G-Town have created for themselves a hyper form of masculinity as a way of coping with the occupation. Rapping has enabled G-Town to emerge as self-appointed leaders of local camp youth, and through their music, they encourage their mainly male audiences to resist the Israeli occupation, while they criticize those who remain passive and whose masculinity thus becomes questionable. Not all their peers, however, are supportive of rap music, and criticize G-Town for having given up practices traditionally associated with the camp’s notion of masculinity.

Keywords: Jerusalem, Shu'afat Refugee Camp, hip hop, rap, music, youth, masculinity, G-Town, palestine

Topics: Occupation, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel

Year: 2009

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