Camel Clutch: The Rap Version
Maybe I'll spin a freestyle like the Iron Sheik
Unlike others he inspires me to speak
To what is constantly on my mind
The illegal occupation of Palestine
He himself doesn't stop to admit
If you had to choose which would you pick
Palestine or hop that's hip?
"I'm doing the music now because of Palestine"
and I'm writing now because of his rhymes
He makes you feel like anyone could do it
What's more important the lyrics or the music?
Clearly the words, the stories unheard
The beat sounds goofy but honestly
This is a new narrative of history
Excuse me readers cause I just can't stop
That Iron Sheik's expanding hip hop
I met with the Iron Sheik at a Berkeley café
He was taller than me and wouldn't let me pay
For my fish taco, you'd think what a macho
But actually he's so sweet he could be gay
There's so much I want to talk about today
When did you get so politicized?
How long have you been making beats?
Are you welcomed or criticized?
Where's your main influence: grad school or the streets?
"I started writing lyrics in eighth grade" he told me
Trying to be like Tribe and Public Enemy
"It was mostly I'm better than you kind of stuff"
"Nothing political at all" -- that wasn't enough
For the Iron Sheik growing up in a school
Just outside of Dearborn where to be Arab wasn't cool
"When I went to school in Dearborn" the Iron Sheik confided
"It was 90% Arab so we were differently divided
"Palestinian, Lebanese, Muslim and Christian.
"I never conceived myself as 'Arab-American.'
'"When I got to school people put me in this category
"I remember being called a Camel Jockey
Other kids circled and tried to mock me"
That's off "Camel Clutch;" it's not an allegory
His experience led to rhyming resistance
Such as freestyling at Bahamadia for instance
He left for U Mich as the sanctions begun
His turntables grew dusty as he fought and won
For Arab American studies department at the University
The sanctions occupied his mind, murdering 500 Iraqis daily
Then Oklahoma City blew because of the Michigan militia
Cops were rounding up the dudes they suspected were from Arabia
The Sheik got so riled he too blew a fuse
Though it had been a while he knew what to do!
He searched for words to describe his pain
Someone asked for a rap and out it came
Right after he graduated, the Intifada started
The Sheik freaked out in Berkeley, alone and broken hearted
He and his one friend Abdul were so frustrated
They drank, they motivated, and evaded becoming jaded
Students for Justice in Palestine was what they created
Divestment became the theme to stop apartheid once again
As more settlements were built to destroy the Palestinians
The activist hype got on the Sheik's nerves
He began to turn towards spoken word
Away from missionary types who want to help
"If you know everything, go free Palestine by yourself."
The result of the rhyming was 2003's "Camel Clutch"
The Sheik's pride is obvious, he now enjoys his work so much
He'd like to reach out to Arab American youth
Through original hip hop that tells the truth
Of hate crimes, suspicion, deportation and oil
Accusations of terrorism that make his blood boil
Speaking of terror, the Sheik happens to mention
About how everything, from the use of water to medicine
Is used by the Israeli military to control the Palestinians
He tells me about hip hop out of Lod's hood
And that the rhymes coming out of the camps are really good
You know that the voices of the oppressed are always repressed
In this case by curfews, closures, roadblocks and shots to the chest
He says that many of these artists are influenced by Tu Pac
These are the kids who started the Intifada with one flying rock
The Sheik folds up the "New York Review of Books"
Instructs me not to bother mentioning his rugged good looks
"Enjoy your End the Occupation conference next week!"
I reply, and bid a respectful goodbye to the Sheik.
MC Zoe Chace, 21, is a WireTap intern.