Anonymous, 19 Apr 2014
Online Journal of the Virtual Middle East
Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013


Orchestrating Hip-hop Culture Online: Within and Beyond the Middle East

This current issue of CyberOrient brings together academics active at Scandinavian universities focusing on hip-hop from different aspects and fields. From different perspectives the authors seek to make sense of the impact, functions and dynamics of Middle Eastern and/or Islamic representations in hip-hop music online, both within and beyond the Middle East.
CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013

Articles Constructing Muslim Hip Hop Identities on the Internet

Although music is not clearly permissible (halal) nor prohibited (haram) in Islam, many young Muslims today make hip hop music and also portray Muslim identities in their lyrics. The article discusses a case study of how Muslim identity and Muslim hip hop are constructed discursively on an American web site entitled The site features Muslim artists from multicultural backgrounds from several different countries. The theoretical framework of social constructivism along with discourse analysis guide the study: identity is seen as contextually and socially constructed. According to the web site’s official stance, if the lyrics and the artists follow the principles of Islam, then the music is permissible. Islamic hip hop is argued to be a positive alternative to mainstream hip hop, to strengthen a positive Muslim identity especially among Muslim youth by teaching Islam and to enhance a positive social change for example by fighting stereotypes. However, it becomes evident that many Muslim artists struggle to integrate Islam with artistic creativity as well as commercial success with religious beliefs. Muslims who make and listen to Islamic hip hop have to continuously defend the music to Muslims who shun it as forbidden and to non-Muslims who feel estranged by its religiousness. Muslim identity is constantly negotiated, multidimensional and situational.
CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013

Hanouneh style resistance. Becoming hip-hop authentic by balancing skills and painful lived experiences

The aim of this article is to examine the dialogically constructed authenticity between an independent hip-hop and reggae artist and her audience and how this construction in turn influences the music-making process, art production and artist identity. It is argued that authenticity is constructed by the artist deconstructing the expected connections between on the one hand particular cultural belongings, lived experiences and ethnic origins, and on the other hand a certain appearance, style, set of values and behaviour. The representation of the Middle East found in the music and the album imagery is analysed as a part of the authenticity construction. The ethnographic study which the article is based on utilises qualitative interviews with the artist and her audience as well as observation in addition to analyses of multimedia content to provide a perspective into the dialogically constructed authenticity.
CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013

“I Am Malcolm X” – Islamic Themes in Hip-hop Video Clips Online

The Internet provides a space for new interpretations and conversations concerning religious practices to take place without the direct interference of religious authorities. The intention of this article is to highlight one vivid aspect of this development, Islamic themed hip-hop video clips distributed online. The visual aesthetics, the selection of pictures (or no pictures), themes and storylines supplementing the musical message can be used to mobilize and promote different traditions of interpretation of Islam. They can also convey interesting insights in the negotiations and compromises of Muslim identities in the consumer culture logic of the modern society. Lastly, they can provide a route to analyze the articulations of alternative interpretations of Islam often, but not always, rooted in a deep social-justice activism that connects marginalized communities within and beyond the Middle East.
CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013


Global Story

Hiphop has long been described as a quintessentially globalized music. Similarly, it has been understood as a unique window into the lives', fears and dreams of young people across the Arab and larger Muslim worlds for most of the post-September 11 era. Since young Tunisians revolted against long time dictator Zine El Abidin Ben Ali to the music of El General (or so the story goes), the music has been considered equally central to understanding the dynamics underlying the revolutionary upheavals that have shaken the Arab world during the last three years. This article reviews the history of hiphop across the region and attempts to provide a theoretical grounding for the role of artistic production in the revolutions using the work of Frankfurt School theoreticians Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin on the production, circulation and consumption of culture.
CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013


Review: Religion and Hip Hop

The book under review brings together the category of religion, Hip Hop cultural modalities and the demographic of youth. Bringing postmodern theory and critical approaches in the study of religion to bear on Hip Hop cultural practices, the book examines how scholars in religious and theological studies have deployed and approached religion when analyzing Hip Hop data.
CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013

Review: Turkish Metal – Music, Meaning and Morality in a Muslim Society

The book is divided into seven chapters that deal with a variety of topics related to heavy metal, Turkey and Islam. The topics include questions concerning gender, nationalism, media coverage and satanic panic. The book is based on a broad range of materials, which include in-depth interviews with musicians and metalheads active on the scene, interviews with journalists and documentary analysis in the form of Turkish daily newspapers and material from the scene like fanzines, flyers, lyrics and webzines.
CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013