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.
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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)
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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.
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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.
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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)
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