In terms of hip-hop, I admit to perpetually playing a game of catch-up with the new releases. In fact, I am so behind the times on hip-hop, I have yet to begin listening to post-mortem Tupac and won't even try to summarize my relationship to Wu-Tang Clan after the death of Ole Dirty Bastard (ODB). However, some of that can be ascribed to the fact that the whole gangsta sub-genre, much like punk rock, has been reduced to commercialized pornography, lacking substance or ideological value. As Green Day became poppy and overly maudlin after DOOKIE, so too gangsta has become a commercial for idiotic posturing. The explicit point of Tupac was never the violence; rather, the essence was a sort of ontological statement, a declaration on what being an African-American truly was like, as opposed to the idealized political correctness of Bill Clinton.
In this sense, Raffoul's rap is perhaps the best gangsta rap I have heard in two decades, for basic reasons. First, the lyrical content is excellent. In comparison to Matisyahu, who has always pushed obstructionist theories like the Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and a lot of mystical nonsense dressed in reggae beats, this is an honest and painful rap. Second, that moment of mystical break between the real and the cinematic, a point constantly appearing in Palestinian cinema, is on display here, in that production of the music video was disrupted at one point by IDF soldiers firing tear gas at protestors. This idea of "Reality Breaking Into the Real" is one