Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Poetry of Peace Jam at USC

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Poetry of Peace Jam at USC

Article excerpt

THE LEVANTINE Cultural Center of L.A. celebrated six years of progressive arts and peace outreach Nov. 17, the final day of the University of Southern California's (USC) Middle East Awareness Week, with a "Poetry of Peace Middle East Hip-Hop and Culture Jam" at USC's Bovard Auditorium.

The star-studded program, arranged by Levantine Center's Jordan Elgrably, featuring the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM from Israel, Arab-American rappers Ragtop and Omar Offendum, along with stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid, Iranian actor Shaun Toub of "Crash" and "The Kite Runner," actress Shiva Rose, and University of California at Irvine Professor Mark LeVine.

While Arab hip-hop has been off the radar of mainstream media, its global popularity with youth is transforming it from an underground music genre into a political phenomenon.

Offendum (a.k.a. architect Omar Chakaki) and Ragtop (a.k.a. film writer and former Washington Report staff member Nizar Wattad) brought down the house with their explosive rapping. …

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