Jewish-Muslim Rap Duo Bridges Ancient Divide

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You don't have to travel to the Middle East to find the very real antagonisms between many of the world's Jews and Muslims. But many in the younger generation want to bridge that widest of cultural divides. At the vanguard of the youth movement for cultural and political reconciliation is the surprisingly talented hip hop duo Mazzi & Sneakas. The Iranian Muslim and Israeli Jew describe their music as "95 percent political," exploring everything from cultural identities to the Israel-Palestine peace process. Here's "Most Hated." Listen for Sneakas' clever retelling of Jewish history and Mazzi's take on the misguided global politics of the Middle East:

Each member raps about what it's like to belong to a people who are the "most hated" for whole swathes of the world. Key lyric: "The most hated duo in the world, man, believe me. A Jew and a Muslim, no matter where you put 'em, some people see a saint, and the others see a hoodlum. ... We are the most hated because we are the least understood."

  • The Palestinian Note's Sarah Harlan writes:
    When the two first met, they "clicked," Sneakas has said in the past, but they have disagreed on almost everything from day one. They make music that's largely political with a focus on Jewish-Muslim understanding, but firstly they make "hip-hop we wanna listen to," Sneakas told me on a phone call from Israel.
    Getting back to music and what this inter-religious, inter-ethnic rap duo garners from the public, Sneakas said despite any backlash, it's been great because Muslim hip-hop fans are able to experience a Jewish-Israeli experience and see it's not a monolith.

    Mazzi said the musical collaboration been enriching as well, though he said he does experience backlash from the Muslim community for working with an Israeli Jew. But he says this does not deter him.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.