Saudi Hip-Hop Group

This article says they love to rap but can’t perform in public.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — Even before they stepped onstage at the MTV Arabia competition finale, members of the Saudi hip-hop group Dark2Men knew they would not win.

The contestants were to be judged on their lyrics, stage presence and performance, but Dark2Men had never performed in public because of strict social and religious codes in their native Saudi Arabia that ban nightclubs, concerts and theaters. The seven other finalists, from the less restrictive Arab countries of Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, had rapped live for years.

An Egyptian won the competition, which is being broadcast this month, but the three men of Dark2Men said their lives had been transformed by the experience.

“It was an earthquake that shifted the world around us,” said Tamer Farhan, 24, who raps in English. “It gave meaning to all the hardships we faced to get here.”

But the advent of satellite television channels such as MTV Arabia, which was launched in the Emirates in November, and social networking Web sites have made it easier for young people to pursue interests deemed contrary to the country’s tradition and culture.

The Dark2Men members, for example, met up on a rap Web site, and they compose their music using online programs. They have posted several songs on YouTube and have a Facebook site.

But even as they rap in praise of Islam and their mothers, and against the war in Iraq and terrorism, their biggest hurdle has been convincing family, friends and Saudi society that they are not simply trying to imitate a decadent Western lifestyle.

Since winning the MTV Arabia hip-hop audition in January, they have struggled with fiancees unhappy about the attention garnered by their television appearances broadcast across the Arab world, bosses angry about their extended leaves from work and fathers worried that their sons would leave stable jobs and become entertainers.

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Filed under arab, arabian, arabic, music, Saudi Arabia

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