Iran’s “Vice Squad” is a long time favorite topic here at The Magical Buffet. Those spunky individuals charged with insuring that the citizens of Iran don’t stray too far from the government’s “norms”. In other words, they spend a lot of time harassing women for wearing make-up or showing off a little ankle. However, back in December 2007 I took a moment to discuss Iran’s rap music problem. And oddly, nearly three years later, Iran’s relationship with rap music has again found its way into my news browser.
In 2007 I suggested that as much as it’s said foul language may be provoking the ire of the Iranian government, in actuality it’s rap music’s history of empowerment of the marginalized that truly concerns Iran. I said, “As those of us ‘old school’ rap fans here in America know, sure, the swear words concern Iran, but the anti-authority, revolution inspiring themes, are what is really causing the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry to crackdown on the genre.”
I think I may have been on to something considering that almost three years later CNN International is reporting that “Police in Tehran have arrested several members of underground Iranian rap groups, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.
Tehran Police Chief Hussain Sajedinia told ILNA that several young boys and girls were discovered using vacant homes to record and videotape illegal rap music for various websites and satellite networks.
Police raided the homes, arrested the young musicians and confiscated ‘western style musical instruments’ and several bottles of liquor, according to ILNA.”
Tehran police chief Sajedinia, through ILNA, “accused Iran’s underground rap scene of spreading profanity and poisoning young minds.”
Reading this article made me have two thoughts. One, “poisoning young minds” sounds an awful lot like, “the anti-authority, revolution inspiring themes, are what is really causing the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry to crackdown on the genre.” (Aren’t I the savvy pundit?) Two, please someone tell me that the “western style musical instruments” were turn tables!
I find the fact that rap music persists in Iran to be an encouraging thing. In April 2010 when discussing music returning to Afghanistan I said, “Music matters. I don’t have facts and figures to back up that statement. Sure, I could go online and find them, but you know it’s true, so why fight with WordPress to create a link? Music inspires, educates, and liberates, that’s just how it is, no sense in denying it.” Despite a regime that wishes to stifle creativity, rap musicians are finding a way to make it work; working out of abandoned houses, getting their music out to the internet, selling CDs on the sly; that my friends is truly “old school” and assuredly “hard core”.