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A Rapper From a 'Forgotten' Country

Apr 03, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Tara Milutis

“I remember going to school and counting bodies on the way back,” says Taher Raad in Tara Milutis’s new film, Taher from Iraq. “I watched a lot of friends and family die. It made human life very cheap—it was just another number added to the news.”

Born and raised in Baghdad, Raad hoped to express his country’s plight through his music. Although he succeeded in making a name for himself in the city’s underground hip-hop scene, “I knew if there was at least half a chance in making it with a music career, I was missing it [being in Iraq],” Raad says. “So I came to Istanbul to start something.”

For Milutis, Raad’s story is a microcosm of the experience of an entire generation of young Iraqis—some of whom, like Raad, now live outside of the country. “What Americans forget is that the Iraq War not only destroyed the country, but robbed the generation who grew up in it of a future,” Milutis told The Atlantic. “So not only did they have to suffer in the war, but when they came of age, there was nothing for them. The war has created a generation in limbo.”

In Istanbul, Raad writes lyrics that speak to, as he describes it, “what the media doesn’t cover: what Iraqi people feel.”

“Pray for Paris/Pray for Syria,” he raps in one song, “but Iraq is forgotten.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.