Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture (Hardcover)
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.
About the Author
HISHAM D. AIDI is a lecturer at the School of International and Public Affairs and the Institute of African Affairs at Columbia University. He was a Carnegie Scholar and Global Fellow at The Open Society Foundation and is coeditor, with Manning Marable, of Black Routes to Islam.
Praise for Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture…
"Fascinating . . . Highly original . . . Breathtaking."
—The New York Times
"Impressive . . . With the confidence of a charismatic professor, Aidi's discussion wanders through Detroit, Brazil, and 'Jim Crow' Arabia."
—The New York Times Book Review
"A multilayered and intriguing story of the mobilization of Muslim youth through music rather than militancy . . . Moving from jazz to the late Algerian pop star Salim Halali, Aidi's wide-ranging, dense work persuades by its passionate accretion of detail."
"An intense tour of some of Islam's most fertile zones . . . places teeming with music, faith, ideas frequently, the tension between popular culture and the messages of conservative Muslim leaders."
—San Francisco Weekly
"Mohammed meets Malcolm; Gnawa meets Guantanamo; Bandung meets B-boys; banlieues meet Bahia: this is the vibrant, noisy, embattled world Hisham Aidi brings to light . . . In what can genuinely be described as a tour de force for its global scope, historical sweep, cultural virtuosity, and political sophistication, Rebel Music examines this soundtrack in a global context, from slavery to the latest war on terror."
—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
"Rebel Music may be the most bafflingly significant book I've read in years. It is a marvel of Zelig-like appreciation of the global youth culture, of its syncretistic Afro-Muslim energies, and of its fabulously variegated purveyors from creators to calculating commercial and political sponsors. Hisham Aidi is a brilliant expositor of this powerful planetary cultural phenomenon."
—David Levering Lewis, author of God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215
"Simply a brilliant, utterly unique, effortlessly transnational and wonderfully written account of hip hop and new Muslim youth culture."
—Marc Lynch, The Washington Post
“Highly original and ambitious . . . Rebel Music exhibits a breathtaking familiarity with different forms of radicalizing music . . . Aidi delves far beneath the surface of stereotypes . . . [and lays out] an array of fascinating conflicts, taking on a subject that has rarely been addressed in book form.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Hip-hop is the lingua franca of worldwide youth culture. It all started in the Bronx, and for thousands of young Muslims around the world today, the New York borough remains sacred ground. In this bracing, fascinating, and utterly timely exploration of music, race, and cultural identity, Aidi examines young European and American Muslims and their search for what he calls “a nonracist utopia.” Specifically, Aidi is concerned with how the so-called American dream exists in Europe’s Muslim ghettos, how young European and American Muslims are drawing on African American history (especially the U.S. civil rights movement) for inspiration, and how American diplomacy is using race and diversity to court Muslims around the world. Aidi touches on many issues in this ambitious and far-reaching book, including the rise of the Far Right; the spread of the war on terror; the mind-boggling cultural fusion going on today (Arabic country music in Alabama, punk rockers in Pakistan); and the power of music to effect social change. Sufi rock, Islam and jazz, Gnawa music, Andalusi music—it’s all covered here. This book will be especially appealing to young people who want to better understand the Muslim perspective on war, prejudice, and national identity.
—June Sawyers, Booklist *Starred Review*