This tag is associated with 23 posts

Ajam Mixtape #7: Diaspora Pop Classics

In the 1980s, new Iranian musicians in the United States joined communities of other diaspora performers from Greece, Armenia, and the Arab World. In cities like New York and Los Angeles, these communities not only lived side-by-side but built upon the shared foundations between their cultures. Just as Middle Eastern markets in Los Angeles typically have bargain bins of CDs and tapes with music from across the region, instrumentalists from different countries often performed alongside each other. Continue reading »

Ajam Mixtape #6: Folk and Avant-Garde

Our mix this month presents a seemingly unorthodox combination: avant-garde and folk music from Iran and the region. The goal with this month’s podcast was to continue presenting samples of Iran’s many musical traditions in a multitude of forms to show the variety and ongoing development of Iran’s diverse folk music traditions. (Photo Credit: Shahrokh Dabiri) Continue reading »

Ajam Mixtape #5: Jazz in Iran through the Decades

Our latest mixtape by our Digital Resident, Kamyar aka Yavaran. Here he takes us through a sampling of jazz from the 1950s through the present to tell the history of Iran’s relationship with jazz. Track list includes songs from Duke Ellington, Viguen, 127 Band, and others. Continue reading »

Curtains of Iron or Curtains of Silk? Soviet Artwork in Conversation with West and South Asia

The post-Soviet art of Central Asia and the Caucasus comes out of a Soviet-era conversation of artistic styles that looks not just to Moscow but also to Mecca. An understanding of the high and low registers of this Soviet cultural heritage allows the humor and self-confidence of the work to be appreciated — aesthetically as well as financially — by audiences. Continue reading »

Reppin Your Hood: Zabān, Pehchān and Pakistani Rap

Shahzad’s rap attempts a resurrection not only of a distinct Sindhi language, but also a Sindhi culture. His songs aren’t just in Sindhi, he also sees them as a continuation of the long Sindhi tradition of Sufi poems. While other Pakistani rappers, prominently BillyX, rap about topics deeply taboo in Pakistani society – sex and intoxicants – Shahzad seeks to reinvigorate a more traditional subject matter. But why through rap? Why resuscitate a tradition through a medium that is foreign to it? He likens it to wearing western dress when going to school; the medium does not compromise the message. Continue reading »

Ajam Mixtape #4: Influential Voices of Iranian Hip Hop

Ajam brings you a mix that attempts to capture a wide range of some of the influential voices in the current Iranian hip-hop scene. The beats and production work have audibly international influences, with traditional instruments like the santoor coexisting with bass-heavy hip-hop drums. Between so many styles, multiple languages, and multiple aesthetics, Iranian rap never fails to tell its own story. (Graffiti Cover image: Elf Crew) Continue reading »

The King Hasn’t Left The Building: An Oral History of an Afghan Musical Icon, Ahmad Zahir

Ahmad Zahir, the major Afghan pop singer of the 1970s, died mysteriously in 1979, a year of upheaval and turmoil in Afghanistan’s political history. Since then, many Afghans, in diaspora and in Afghanistan, maintain a special relationship with Ahmad Zahir and his music. This article explores the memory of one family in using Ahmad Zahir as a way to connect to their homeland. Continue reading »

Shirin Mozaffari’s Tarab: How to Listen to Music, Soundlessly

In an e-mail conversation with Ajam Media Collective, Mozaffari said that Tarab “essentially represents the musically induced state of ecstasy transmitted by a performer to the audience through the syntax of music.” Continue reading »

Ajam Mixtape #3: Sounds of Nowruz

The Ajam Family would like to wish you all a very happy Nowruz and spring season. Enjoy this podcast, which collects the sounds of festivities from the different parts of the world that celebrate this joyous day. Continue reading »

Ajam Mixtape #2: Psychedelic Sounds from Iran and Beyond

This mix attempts to break away from looking at psychedelic rock as a Manichean battlefield between “eastern” and “western” sounds and instead, showcases how this genre allowed Iranian artists to engage in musical conversations with Western music, local sounds, and the sounds of neighboring countries. Thus, psychadelic music, which itself emerged from the interactions between young Western artists and Indian Classical Music, served as a platform for Iranian artists to inventively experiment as well. Continue reading »