We, Americans have the privilege to enjoy the freedoms our nation has. We have the freedom of movement (to go where we want without consent). We have the freedom to believe what we want. We have the freedom of religion, the freedom to vote of who we want as president, etc. We also have the freedom to express our beliefs without the threat of violence upon us.
But what if, we lived in a country where those freedoms aren't recognized.
One courageous and gorgeous female rapper does. And her name is Sosan Firooz.
Firooz is a 23 year-old Afghan who's passion for hip-hop has made her a role model for young girls and women. She wears her skull bandanas, jewelry and tennis shoes proudly! Her long brunette flows in the sun unrestricted. Most women in Afghanistan have their hair covered in keeping with Muslim tradition.
She raps about the brutal women repression, growing up amidst war and embracing her homeland. Her family fled Afghanistan during the bloody civil war of early 1990s. They became refugees in Iran while that nation was hard-line Taliban. She and thousands of Afghans were discriminated against by their supposed "neighbors". They were often called "the dirty Afghans".
Several years ago, Firooz and her family returned home. In her village, she started to express her emotions in Dari (one of the two official languages of Afghanistan). She ignored the constant death threats of being a woman wanting independence. Firooz took to writing lyrics on her home computer (which sometimes broke down). One of her supporters bought Firooz an electronic keyboard. She began booking time in a studio to make music.
In addition to rapping, she is also an actress. Firooz has appeared on local tv stations in soap operas. As she becomes more and more known, the danger is still there. Her father quit his state-run electronics job to by his daughter's side.
"I'm her secretary. I answer phones. I'm her bodyguard." He said in an interview with BBCKabul. Her mother still works a government job. But, she's careful not to mention what her daughter does.
Firooz is an example of what is good about hip hop. It crosses borders. It brings in people we wouldn't normally know. Her debut video "Our Neighbors" is currently on youtube. The 3.53 minute song is a marriage of skillful rapping over a catchy beat. I think of M.I.A. (@miaUniverse on twitter) when hearing this song. M.I.A. is a Sri Lankan rapper who performed at the Superbowl with Jay-Z and Madonna. She has rapped about her country's tragic 30-plus, civil war, oppression and injustice. She's a hardcore artist who makes no apologies. She raps with confidence and bravado. This is who I see when I listen to Sosan Firooz.
The reason I'm writing this piece is two-fold. I want people to recognize the people in the rap industry who are in it for the right reasons. Not everyone writes lyrics that degrade women, embrace senseless violence, pimping and/or drug dealing. Also, I want someone in the music or entertainment industry to reach out to Sosan Firooz. I want them to see her video "Our Neighbors". I want them to say,
"This woman has exceptional talent and bravery. I can see her as an artist on my label."
Firooz's needs supporters from the rap industry here. I fear something tragic may happen to her or her family while in Afghanistan. Kabul has a security force but the nation is still embroiled with Taliban guerrillas. And, there's always one nut who wants to make a name for himself by hurting someone known. There are a few male rap artists in Afghanistan. Firooz is a pioneer not only in her country but in her region. Women still get imprisoned or even executed for disobeying Muslim customs, adultery or for seeking independence. Firooz is risking her life because of her love for hip hop. Let us as a hip hop nation make sure her life is just beginning...
YouTube "Our Neighbors"
Sosan Firooz (Google or Yahoo search engine)
Afghanistan's 1st Female Rap Artist (SEARCH)