Friday, December 05, 2008

Going Dutch

Back to my Arab Hip Hop project, in July i went to Holland and for 4 days, were I had full access to the life of one of Holland's top rappers, Salahedin. The experience of shooting with a Moroccan artist who has made it big in Europe was amazing and at the end of it Salahedin surprised me by taking me to meet and shoot with WU-Tang Clan, the world's top hip hop group.

Below are some pictures and an excerpt from the article the photo essay that appeared in NOX magazine last month.

Salahedin at his home studio.

Salahedin meets with the youth of his old neighborhood.Method Man of WU-Tang backstage
RZA again.

Salahedin and Method Man in the green room.

July 10th, 2008
After a five-hour flight to Paris, I take the train to Paris Nord station where I meet Jordanian oud player Elia Khoury and his brother Basil. We wolf down a very quick Micky Dees
before immediately heading off to Rotterdam on another train to meet Moroccan-Dutch rapper Salah Eddine. The ticket costs somewhere around $140, which makes me
reminisce about long-distance services to Damascus for a tenth of that price, and requires a change at Brussels and another four-plus hours of sitting on my backside. If I get there before midnight I will be doing extremely well. The train is painfully slow, with an infuriating number
of stops – aren’t trains meant to be fast? I do my best to kill time by snapping the sunset from various locations I’ve never heard of – like Mechelen. Even when I get to Rotterdam, late and dog tired, I have to negotiate yet more public transport, this time an inner city
tram to Leiden – cost: $10 – and the ride is hideous, with drunk Dutch guys playing terrible country music out of tiny mobiles. Once in Leiden, it’s another train to Alphen, where Salah lives. I get to Alphen and decide to take a cab. I finally knock on his door at 1am. I have been travelling for 16 hours. Despite my desperate desire to see a pillow, Salah and I talk until 4am while listening to tracks from his new album Horr – with his narration layered over the top like a DVD special feature. Both are thrilling to hear, proving that the Arab hip hop scene will be experiencing a genuine revolution when it is released. His voice is confident and trustworthy, growing on you by the second, and with the additional touches of Arabic samples, it transformsthe audio experience into a cinematic one. It is a privilege to be among the first to hear it.

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