Saturday, July 12, 2008

These are some of the people who are known to refer to contemporary Iran and Iranians as "persia" or "Persians": Saddam Hossein, self-hating and/or clueless Iranians living in North America, supporters and participants in US backed operations aimed at splitting Iran into multiple ethnic enclaves, and most recently, the Saudi MBC Persia, whose owners also run the well-known mouthpiece of Israeli and US propaganda, the Al-Arabiya Channel (which incidentally also has a newly inaugurated Persian language site as well).

Despite my distaste for and suspicion of anyone who uses the word "Persian" to refer to anything other than the language (excepted also, of course, are those who use the term in a properly descriptive and/or historical sense), I am a huge fan of the Iranian-British rapper Reveal AKA Mehrak, and especially his song "Prince of Persia," which you can listen to on his myspace page.

Reveal is a totally legit rapper who won the British freestyle battle championships in 2000, when he was only 15 or 16 years old. As opposed to some commercial pseudo-rappers in Iran that specialize in silly and fun lyrics, for example, Rezaya and 2afm, who I will admit to liking as well, Reveal is politically aware and astute, and his lyrics show both a transnational grasp of world affairs as well as an understanding of the local nuances of Iranian and British societies. Perhaps most importantly, Reveal addresses class issues, something that is entirely absent from contemporary Iranian cultural productions. (You can learn more about Reveal in this interview).

And while the macho militarism is a bit too much for me, I highly recommend the song "Vatan Parast", which is a rap he did with the Hichkas, the self-dubbed (and I think maybe fairly so) father of Iranian rap. The song, which is rapped in both Persian and English, is an expression of anger and nationalistic bravado in response to the threats of war against Iran and the hypocrisy of those who work daily to lay the groundwork for it.

Someone took the song and put it against a backdrop of pictures from Iran's armed forces. Whomever did this also tacked on to the end of the rap a line from an Iran-Iraq war song. If you lived through the Iran-Iraq war like I did, you will know the original song very well. What is being sung here is apparently a new version.

In any case, the imagery and what has been added at the tail end give new layers of meaning to the whole thing, which I am including below for your listening/viewing pleasure: