Afghanistan’s first female rapper is opening up about her music, the difficulties she encounters as a woman and a musician in the notoriously patriarchal society and life after the Taliban.
Although they were both actually born in Iran they now live in Kabul, identifying as “pure Afghan” and have been writing and singing together since 2008.
Despite some progress having been made since the fall of the Taliban, day to day life still provides many difficulties for a musician in Afghanistan—even more so for a female one.
Paradise opens up about her life, dreams and challenges an exclusive interview with Popdust.
Popdust: How do you think things have changed for women in Afghanistan since the Taliban left? What is daily life like for women now?
There are a lot of changes in women’s lives since the Taliban left. They can go to school, University and so on, but these new changes have been accepted only from the government side. A lot of females still cannot go to school or university and they get married very young because their family—or better to say, the male generation want so. The Taliban washed the brain and brought some changes to our traditions that will take centuries to be removed.
Daily life for women depends, a normal woman who is living in a big city like Kabul can go to work and take care of the children and has made some good progress, but this can be only less than 5 percent of women in Afghanistan.
For me as a singer living in Afghanistan is like staying in prison, I am staying at home all day long and working on our songs. Life out there is dangerous for me but I go out for my concerts and events.
Popdust: How are people responding to your rap music?
Most of the time they do not understand the concept of Hip-Hop, it’s something new and difficult for them to understand. I have been threatened, bitten and sworn at—mostly by the male generation just because I want my rights from singing. Thankfully though, not everyone is the same; we have some great fans who are supporting our songs and giving us energy. That’s why we are still singing.
Popdust: Who are your musical influences - who do you look up to?
Life on the streets and people living in Afghanistan are our musical influences. When we heard a lot of women have been hurt and injured we started to sing the first protest Hip-Hop song in Afghanistan which is called Faryade Zan (Woman’s Shout).
We can generally categorize our songs in two parts. We have songs that are describing true social life style and situations of Afghans as well as songs about general daily life such as love, and so on. We try to combine Dari and Persian music with modern western style and create a unique mixture
Popdust: Who would you collaborate with musically, if you could choose anyone?
Well, there are lots of great singers that we would love to collaborate with but to name a few, I would say Eminem, Jay-Z, Rihanna.
Popdust: What do you think the future holds for music in Afghanistan?
We are so optimistic and positive about Afghanistan’s future. We hope the new generation will bring a lot of changes to Afghanistan and its music.
Popdust: What are your goals and dreams?
Our most important goal is to make Afghan music Internationally recognized and to bring Peace and Love to Afghanistan through music.
The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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