For decades young Palestinians have used art as a voice for their community, a platform through which they can narrate their side of the story and share their resilience with the world. Music has been one powerful way, and with each new generation, a new wave of talented musicians and bands take over the Palestinian music scene with their unique identities and diverse sounds.

My playlist is somewhat eclectic with different genres of music, all reveling the complexity of  Palestinian identity and traditions. Through  experimental, jazz, pop and rock and folk, these artist attest to the strong memories of a new generation of Palestinians, and as a result the  cultural production is a scared form of resistance that no colonizer can erase.

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DAM 

Hip Hop, Rap

Perhaps the most well-known Arab hip hop group, DAM has made a solid standing with political hip hop, addressing the occupation and gender-based violence issues within the Arab society.  MCs, Suhell Nafar, Tamer Nafar, Mahmoud Jreri, have been rapping since the late 1990s and while dealing with serious topics, they bring to their songs a sense of humor and cleverness with a politicized experience.

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Apo & the Apostiles

Alternative, Rock, Folk

An alternative rock band with a diverse group of members that combine folk, reggae-like beats, traditional Arabic sounds, and rock — Apo & the Apostles songs leave the listener with a feeling of resilience and light-heartedness in the face of despondency and loss.

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Shadia Mansour 

Hip Hop, Rap

The first Lady of Arab hip hop, Shaida Mansour, has taken on the political resistance with her explicitly political lyrics that take on Zionist colonization and cultural erasure. Her most popular single Kufiyeh, is a reminder of how resilience remains apart of Palestinian identity, no matter where you are in the world.

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Omar Kamal

Jazz

I had to add Omar into this play list because I am a huge jazz fan. From the city of Nablus, Omar Kamal’s multicultural influences has given him a rich taste in music ranging from Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson to Arabics greatest such as Mohammed Abdel and Fairouz. Music being his escape, he explores the space where he can be creative and dream, moving away from the politics and oppression, taking his listeners to a state of bliss.

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Le Trio Joubran

Traditional, Jazz

Le Trio Joubran is an internationally renowned and beloved oud trio of three brothers. From a family oudists and luthiers (oud makers), dating back generations, the Joubran siblings demonstrate resilience and cultural knowledge through their performances and are very connected with their rootedness in Palestinian cultural memory.

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Checkpoint 303

Experimental 

Checkpoint 303 aims to uncover an artistical recreation of violence and unease for listeners, through their multimedia experimental music project occupation. An interesting experience.

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Simon Shaheen

Composer / Oud / Instrumental

Simon Shaheen is a Palestinian oud and violin virtuoso and one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers, and composers of his generation. He dazzles his listeners as he deftly leaps from traditional Arabic sounds to jazz and Western classical styles. His soaring technique, melodic ingenuity, and unparalleled grace have earned him international acclaim as a virtuoso on the oud and violin and in 1994. Shaheen was honored with the prestigious National Heritage Award at the White House.

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Rim Banna

Folk / Experimental

Although she is not with us anymore, her music remains on my playlist. Rim Banna was known for her modern interpretations of traditional Palestinian songs and poetry. Banna did more than mimictraditional techniques and representations of the pieces she she blends them with modern singing styles. She said “I try to write songs that fit my voice. I want to create something new in every respect. And that includes bringing people elsewhere closer to the music and soul of the Palestinians.

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El Container

Alternative, Rock

An alternative rock band from occupied Jerusalem, their music describes the reality of the Palestinian youth today, who livie with insecurity and internal turmoil everyday. The song “Bahdaleh” is about life under occupation, adding a sincere dose of humor and sarcasm.

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Ramallah Underground

Experimental

Ramallah Underground, based in Ramallah, Palestine, was born from the immediacy of musical experimentation and the need to give voice to a generation of Palestinians and Arabs who face a turbulent and uncertain political landscape. Their lyrics and music are an expression of anguish and defiance, ultimately remaining a defiant voice of the colonized against the colonizer. They continue to play a big role in the Arab Underground cultural scene while slowly gaining wide global and local popularity.

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Mohammed Assaf

Arabic Pop

It wouldn’t be a Palestinian playlist without Mohammed Assaf who has become a symbol of Palestinian resilience. He is well-known for winning the second season of Arab Idol and his victory received world-wide coverage bringing light to Palestinians everywhere. In 2013 Assaf was named goodwill ambassador for peace by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) . In 2015, a film called The Idol was made about Assaf and gained international recognition. His music and story has touched my heart and his latest hit with Lebanese Canadian R&B/pop singer, Massari, entitled Roll with It, is a favourite of mine.

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El-Funoun

Folklore Dance Troupe, Music & Song

Since 1979 this intrepid troupe of singers, musicians, and dancers has worked to revive the folk music of Palestine. El-Funoun have become a vital part of the cultural identity of the Palestinian people. The album, Zaghareed is a concept collection based on the music played during a traditional wedding ceremony. Some pieces feature qanun, oud, buzuq, flutes, and reed instruments, and various percussion.  I was dazzled to see them perform for the first time in 2006 in Abu Dhabi and fell in love with the music.

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Revolution Makers

Hip Hop, Rap

Siblings Mohammed and Osama Elsusi from Gaza are serious, truth-speaking hip hopers. Dedicated to the liberation of Palestine, the two express their deep resilience and hope, which is felt in songs like “Fee benna Amal/We Have Hope“. To speak of hope in a place as cut off from it as Gaza is deeply moving, and their songs radiate out through the speakers, across borders and into our hearts.