A 14-year-old Palestinian rapper performed recently at Qatar Foundation (QF) after travelling from Gaza for the first time, to demonstrate that music can be used as a tool to spread love, joy and kindness.
MC Abdul performed, reflecting the current situation in Gaza, before a live audience at the QF’s D’reesha Performing Arts Festival, according to an article on the QF website.
“Being on stage for the first time in my life is a big step in my career,” MC Abdul – whose real name is Abdulrahman al-Shantti – said. “The audience interacted with my music and was enthusiastic. I could feel their love for Palestine.”
Encouraged by his father, MC Abdul started rapping at the age of nine, listening to musicians such as Eminem and Tupac.
The teenager feels like he belongs to rap, and helps him to raise awareness of global social issues – as well as those that relate directly to him, such as a lack of access to resources.
“I do not have a recording studio, a microphone, or a computer. All I have is my father’s phone, where I record songs and publish them on social media – to the world,” he said.
His songs attract thousands of views on social media, and through Instagram he has been able to garner the attention of some Hollywood celebrities who have re-shared clips of his music videos.
MC Abdul shows the difficulties of living in Gaza through his music – leaving his house, Israeli attacks, destroyed houses, and bombed streets.
He has lost classmates, many of whom would gather around him at school while he sang, and now he sings for them – and for other children, to defend their rights.
“In Gaza, our basic needs for living are not even met. Children may be bombed at any moment, they may lose their parents, and may suffer from mental trauma,” he said. “So, I sing for them, to help them remain hopeful for a better future.”
Al-Shantti also sings for his brother Omar, who was traumatised at an early age during the 2014 Gaza conflict and has difficulty speaking.
“I talked about my brother's suffering in one of my songs – he is one of a million children in Palestine who are suffering in this way,” he said.
MC Abdul was able to watch several FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 matches during his stay in Qatar and was proud to see so many Palestinian flags.
“I was happy to see the Palestinian flags on the shoulders and over the heads of fans, as well as in the stadiums,” he said. “It is a great honour for us, as Palestinians and as Arabs, to have so much support.”
“Resistance is not only about weapons,” al-Shantti said. “Raising the Palestinian flag at a huge event like the World Cup is resistance.”
“Singing for hope and peace is also resistance,” he added. “Qatar Foundation's organisation of the ‘Qatar Welcomes Palestine’ campaign to shed light on our cause is resistance.”