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.

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