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Global Notes: The music and politics of Chicagoan Khaled M

Libyan-American hip hop artist Khaled M has closely followed the fight to oust Muammar Qaddafi. Khaled lives in Chicago but grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, home to a Libyan-American community active in opposition politics. His father fled Libya after being tortured in jail for protesting the Qaddafi regime. After unrest erupted in Benghazi and Tripoli, Khaled went to Washington, D.C. to join a group of Libyan-Americans helping the U.S. government and media communicate with protesters inside Libya.

Khaled, along with members of the opposition group known as Enough Gaddafi, recently released a mixtape of North African hip hop artists. He expects to release Free P, a free EP of his own music, this spring. Jerome and Radio M host Tony Sarabia chat with Khaled M about his music and politics.


Track list:

1. Cloud Conversations Pt 2 — Khaled M
2. El Sooal (Question) — Ibn Thabit
3. Min Irhabi (“Who is the Terrorist?) — DAM
4. Hello Til I'm Gone — Khaled M


Lyrics for "El Sooal" (Question)

I'm still enthralled by your question my dear friend
we expected demonstrations but saw only tingeez*
what do you say ibn thabit, about the hearts of the people?
is there as yet hope in the aspirations of the people?
will they stand up to the enemy as our grandfathers did?
will they sacrifice, as they did to the west of our borders?
is there as yet self-worth and courage in our hearts?
or will we be hypocrites to each other, so as to fill our pockets
Do you want my answer or the answer of the people?
God only knows how much long I will last
If you want the opposite view, I only have a feeling
I will try to purify it like the dust that falls from the kisskass pot**
first thing they'll see is praise God that you're alive
I praise God because if not for petrol this country would have nothing
and that may be better so that we can flip it on its head
as they did in Tunis, this is a specific salute
"At least we have bread, and bread is cheap"
the price of the blood of a martyr cannot be measured
What's your excuse? Are you waiting for Jesus?
Here the country next to ours got rid of their president
he said I have understood them after he insulted them
Muammar, you have done nothing for your people
Muammar it is better for you to retire and repent
because Muammar, it is impossible for you to flee
revenge is coming like a train into a wall
we will burn you in a fluid, bring the oil
so that you know how the martyrs of Abu Saleem screamed
until they see you in hell, they will not be at ease
I swear by Allah, who created us and you
Muammar your end I swear is near
90% of us our furious
one day the rest will say "we wish we had run away"
your money will do you no good when we decapitate you
in the day that our armies meet yours
I am nudging you to leave before it happens
because when the revolution begins you will not be able to flee
I mean a people's revolution in the true meaning of the word (as opposed to Qaddafi's)
Qaddafi doesn't know, because the level of his knowledge
on a scale it is like comparing dirt with silver
if he's good at anything, ask his nurse
she'll tell you he's good at distorting the facts
anything she says "good job ya lilla" ***
these are the words of people that die for a penny
real men pay no heed to pennies
the wealth you have stolen, the innocent you have killed, the students you have neglected,
they are coming for you.
you have nowhere to run, we know your faces
no one will welcome you, woe be to your noses
they lift them (their noses) the Saad-Sheen dogs (big shots in the gov)
we know that right now you don't know what torture is
but very soon you will know, send your money abroad
Switzerland will freeze them for the last and final time
you mock the people, saying that they don't want to work****
you dirtbags, you only know how to steal
the wealth that you are eating is fire (in your stomachs)*****
this is as obvious as the honor of Sidi Omar al Mukhtar
he who died for his country, see the events of this country
how much of this century has been lost to this country
how many billions have been spent in vain?
how many are those who like everything but my choice of words?
only my Lord knows me, and only he can judge me
when I charge the qiyada******, stay back. BOOM.

*tingeez -- in Libyan colloquial used to describe people who occupy homes of others, as per Qaddafi's green book.
**kisskass pot -- a sifting pot used to get rid of unwanted grains in certain Libyan dishes.
***lilla -- a slang way of addressing a girl -- i.e. doll, honey, sugar, etc.
****attitude at the top circles is that employment is abundant but Libyans leave dirty jobs to foreigners, hence they “refuse to work.”
*****reference to the Qu'ranic teaching that those who eat from wealth not for them, it is as though they are eating fire.
******qiyada is slang for the Bab al Aziziya barracks in Tripoli.

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