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Rebel Music

Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture

Hisham Aidi

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


This fascinating, timely, and important book on the connection between music and political activism among Muslim youth around the world looks at how hip-hop, jazz, and reggae, along with Andalusian and Gnawa music, have become a means of building community and expressing protest in the face of the West’s policies in the War on Terror. Hisham Aidi interviews musicians and activists, and reports from music festivals and concerts in the United States, Europe, North Africa, and South America, to give us an up-close sense of the identities and art forms of urban Muslim youth.
We see how the current cultural and political turmoil in Europe’s urban periphery echoes that moment in the 1910s when Islamic movements began appearing among African-Americans in northern American cities, and how the Black Freedom Movement and the words of Malcolm X have inspired the increasing racialization and radicalization of young Muslims today. More unexpected is how the United States and some of its allies have used hip-hop and Sufi music to try to deradicalize Muslim youth abroad.
Aidi’s interviews with jazz musicians who embraced Islam in the post–World War II years and took their music to Europe and Africa recall the 1920s, when jazz inspired cultural ferment in Europe and North Africa. And his conversations with the last of the great Algerian Andalusi musicians, who migrated to Paris’s Latin Quarter after the outbreak of the Algerian War in 1954, speak for the musical symbiosis between Muslims and Jews in the kasbah that attracted the attention of the great anticolonial thinker Frantz Fanon.
Illuminating and groundbreaking, Rebel Music takes the pulse of the phenomenon of this new youth culture and reveals not only the rich historical context from which it is drawn but also how it can foretell future social and political change.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Dec 16, 2013 – In dense and turgid academic prose, political scientist Aidi explores the ways that Muslim youth culture across the globe has embraced various forms of music, from hip-hop to jazz, as a means of protesting, proclaiming identity, and building community. At the same time, he observes, nation-states from Saudi Arabia and Iran to France and the U.S. monitor musical tastes among youth, especially in fringe urban areas, to calculate the power this music might have for undermining and challenging the status quo. Through interviews with many musicians, Aidi reveals the power of music to challenge religious and political categories. For example, in Philadelphia, Luqman Abdul Haqq, who as Kenny Gamble wrote some of the 1970s most-recognized hits of the Philly R&B sound, has ruffled Muslim feathers by building a center for R&B in his Philly neighborhood, asserting that faith, music, and economic uplift go together. In Pakistan, the rock band Junoon, led by Salman Ahmad, combines the poetry of Rumi with the rhythms of Led Zeppelin in their protest music, but they also drew the ire of orthodox Pakistani Sufi mullahs with a narrow interpretation of Rumi. While Aidi’s study explores uncovered territory in music and politics, its labyrinthine structure turn this into a tuneless composition on what is a compelling and timely subject.
Rebel Music
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: Mar 04, 2014
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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