A new website dedicated to underground music from the Arab and Islamic world hopes to be a MySpace for musicians pushing for social change.
Fans of hits like "I Shot You Babe"—an Iraqi ditty based on the Sonny and Cher tune—can find the songs on the Bahrain-based Mideast Tunes site.
Esra'a al-Shafei, 24, founded the English-language site and is also director of the group Mideast Youth.
She tells NPR's Steve Inskeep that the group's music site—a sort of regional iTunes, but free of charge—is intended to allow musicians and listeners to connect in a part of the world where many young people feel helpless.
It's an English-language site with Western funding (private funding, that is: Al-Shafei's group wisely won't take money from the U.S. government); I have to wonder whether its core audience is located in the Mideast or here in the States. Either way, it's right to see a connection between "vulgar" pop culture and Middle Eastern dissent, a topic we've been covering here at Reason for a while now. That coverage will continue in our December issue, which will include a feature on the region's heavy metal and hip hop scenes.
If you want to hear "I Shot You Babe" for yourself, here you go:
And from the same musician, DJ Foundation, here's a little ditty about jihad: