Posted by Joshua on Thursday, August 9th, 2007
Elissa – No comment regarding her ban from traveling to Syria
Lebanese singer Elissa has been banned from entering Syria, according to the London daily Elaph, just shortly after Lebanese singer Haifa Wahbi was also banned from entering the country.
Elissa declined to comment on the decision. Her manger Ameen Abi Yaghi said he did not receive any documentation notifying him of such a decision.
Haifa claims that she has not been banned from traveling to Syria, and is preparing to hold a live concert there in the near future.
Head of the Union of Syrian Musicians, Sabah Obeid, denies any political motivation behind Syria’s move to ban a number of Arab singers like Haifa Wahbi, Elissa and Ruby. Obeid said the decision had been made after the Union determined that all three singers use their bodies, performing almost naked to market their music. “They are not real singers,” according to Obeid.
Others view the Union’s decision as wholly political. Haifa recently released a song for Lebanese army Chief Samir Ja’ja’, while Elissa was seen participating in a march advocating the removal of the Syrian army from Lebanon. Elissa is one of many singers that have refused to perform for Syrian President Bashar Al Asad.
Kuwait: Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram banned
Officials at Ministry of Information in Kuwait say that its Censorship Department has refused a request for a concert during the Muslim holiday Eid Al Fitr for Lebanese Nancy Ajram and Kuwaiti singer Nabil Shu’ail.
A committee member stated that Nancy Ajram – known as "The Maria Carey of the Middle East" – should not be allowed to sing at public celebrations in Kuwait and supported the ministry’s decision to ban her.
Egyptian singer Ruby is also banned from performing in Kuwait.
"A destructive and serious threat"
According to Al-Arabiya, an official Israeli report issued by the General Agency for Israeli Cinema and Arts on September 2, 2005, has denounced Nancy Ajram and other Lebanese popstars as posing a destructive and serious threat to the Israeli state because of their “political activities which have great influence in the Arab world due to their great popularity.”
In Morocco, the mayor of Marrakech announced in May 2005 that Nancy Ajram will not be permitted to hold any future concerts in the city in order to avoid reoccurrence of the kind of incidents which supposedly took place during her performance in April 2005: “sexual harassment, theft, excessive alcohol consumption resulting in violence, people fainting.”
Her success continues unabated.
Ruby is one of the most-talked about performers. She is Egyptian, rather than from more liberal Lebanon like many current stars. Her raunchy moves, bare midriff and revealing clothing have had conservative MPs clamouring for a ban.
Kebab shop worker's rap is the hottest single in France
By Claire Soares
Published: 09 August 2007 THE INDEPENDENT
From mutton grease to musical greatness, it has been an unconventional road for rapper Lil'Maaz and his hit anthem "Mange du Kebab" (Eat Kebab).
The 27-year-old Turkish immigrant, whose real name is Yilmaz Karaman, moved to Paris four years ago and took a job in a kebab house where he would sing as he served. "It all started with my interactions with customers, asking them whether they wanted tomatoes, mayonnaise," he explained. "The questions took on their own rhythm and very quickly it became a rap."
It turned out some of his kebab-hungry clientele worked in a recording studio and they decided to help him reach a wider audience.
A clip on the internet site Dailymotion clocked up half a million hits in a month, and caught the eye of big-time record executives. Now Lil'Maaz finds himself in the same stable as the Beatles after EMI released 25,000 copies of the single in France earlier this week.
"I'm in shock. My head's spinning and I keep asking myself if this is all a dream," he said yesterday. "It's just totally exploded."
The video for the hit song was shot in "Chez Diyar", the purple and yellow kebab house where he works in the 18th arrondissement, which Lil'Maaz describes in the song as "the kingdom of grease." He raps to his regulars, as hunks of lamb burn on a spit behind him.
"Behind the counter, I prepare the bread, caressing it between my hands. I am the rapper of the doner kebab. Mayo, ketchup, sauce and lamb. Cooking mutton is a real art, and there's no pork for us. Here, you'll find smells of the Orient that will stay on your clothes," goes one verse.
So what does Lil'Maaz think is the appeal of his off-beat song? "The kebab is universal," he says solemnly, before breaking into giggles. "No really, we live in such a complicated world, and people need to have a laugh. I would laugh and crack jokes when I served people and this song is just an extension of that."
His family, including eight brothers and two sisters, are in south-eastern Turkey, but often call him to tease him and place joke takeaway orders. But given that he arrived in Paris with no French, they are very proud of his hit francophone song.
And his boss is happy, too. Fans are travelling from all over the city to visit the new rap star at his workplace.
All artists that strike gold with their first release worry about being a one-hit wonder, but Lil'Maaz says "Mange du Kebab" is not the last we will hear of him. "There will be a follow-up but I prefer to keep it secret. All I can say is that I don't think one should overdo the same theme, so don't worry, it won't be 'Mange du Hamburger.'"
Addendum: (August 9, 2007)
Hi Joshua,I've been a long time reader of your blog – its my no 1 source on Syrian affairs. I just thought I should mention the irony that Elissa's mother is actually Syrian – she is from Kafra, part of the Wadi Nasara. I know this because her aunty lives here in Sydney.Cheers,Assad