Palestinian Hip-Hop Group DAM Has a Message for the Patriarchy

“Who Are You?” is a pointed critique of both everyday gender inequality and fairweather “make believe” feminists.

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For the rappers that make up DAM, “make believe,” fair-weather feminism can be just as troubling as the gender inequality they see on a regular basis.

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Meet BomBaebs, The Female Indian Duo Rapping Against Rape

Pankhuri Awasthi and Uppekha Jain grab the mic to call for women’s rights in India

image via youtube screen capture

Following a number of high-profile incidents of sexual violence against women in India (as well as any number of equally troubling incidents that have gone un-or-under-noticed) two women have grabbed the mic in order to stand up on behalf of their Indian sisters, and against the misogyny they see permeating the culture in which they live. Calling themselves “BomBaebs,” Pankhuri Awasthi and Uppekha Jain, both from Mumbai, spit rhymes that change flow, and even language, as they take to task politicians, cat-callers, and what they tag as the hypocrisy of India’s problematic responses to sexual violence with lyrics like:

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I remember meeting Ben on the second day of class. He missed the first day because he had to take a 12-hour boat from his home in Savusavu, to get to where the beat-making workshops were being held at the University of the South Pacific in Suva. Our host, Dave Lavaki (also known as rapper Mr. Grin), introduced Ben as a talented pianist, singer, and community activist with a background at the Berkeley College of Music.

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This Week in Beat Making: Sabar Drumming Deep in Dakar

How Sabar drummers sample their drum sounds and created a one-of-a-kind West African drum kit to use for Beat Making Lab's electronic production.

One evening in Dakar, our beat making curriculum was transformed by a chance encounter.

I struck up a conversation with a West African drummer, in front of a coconut vendor. He was a weightlifter and a welder and fluent in Japanese, and part of a lineage of traditional Sabar drummers. Within an hour of meeting, he invited me and my friends [producer Apple Juice Kid and filmmaker Saleem Reshamwala] to his home in Medina. For two miles, we darted between sewing shops, street vendors, and mosques; stopping every few blocks to speak to children playing in the streets and to soak in the early evening air, which was filled with the delicious scent of cheebu jen (fish and rice).

When we arrived at his house, he introduced us to his family and retrieved a dozen drums from a small wooden shed. He and his brothers then started teaching us traditional Sabar rhythms—native to Senegal—while women and children from his family danced and laughed. Eventually I put my drum down and started rapping—clumsily trying to incorporate some of the limited Wolof I had learned over the previous days—into my lyrics. This was my introduction to Sabar drumming and one of my most memorable experiences in Dakar.


As an artist and beat-making teacher, one of my goals is to create memorable experiences through music. In our Beat Making Lab curriculum, one of the cardinal rules is to boycott the use of default drum sounds that come with beat-making software. The reason is simple: if you want to create an interesting sounding beat, you have to sample or record original drum sounds, and amass your own unique kit. This brings a fresh foundation to the beat, and is a good first step towards composing an original, memorable song.

The Sabar drumming was some of the most unique any of us had heard, so after our impromptu session, we hired two Sabar drummers to sample their distinct drum sounds and create a one-of-a-kind West African drum kit to use in our electronic productions. This has since become a part of our process and curriculum. In each country we build a Beat Making Lab, we have our students search for original drums, instruments, chants, and environments; record them; edit them into samples; and publish them for anyone who wants to use them to make music.

We can't invite you into our first Sabar cypher, but if you would like to create a few of your own, please feel free to use our sounds.

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