Poet travels to Lebanon to see if hip hop can help combat religious extremism

From Baton Rouge to Paris and beyond, hip hop has helped unify communities and combat injustice – but is the genre capable of tackling an issue as large as religious extremism in the Middle East?

Tottenham’s very own Poet went to Beirut to find out how a collective there is using hip hop to provide a counter-narrative to ISIS propaganda.

That was quite a different experience for Poet to his Noisey presenting debut, which was to chronicle Blackpool’s grime scene – but it helped shed some light on the way the war in Syria is affecting young people in Lebanon, where a third of the population are refugees.

El Rass, a member of the A Different Story collective releasing an album to talk about radicalisation, had some interesting things to say.

“For me, it would be very sad to see that the only way my city is represented is with these psuedo-Islamic thugs. And they are, they’re thugs,” he said.

Explaining why people he knows may choose to go to Syria, he said: “Sometimes it’s because when you see people you identify with being massacred every day, there’s something that explodes in your head, and you just feel like you need to do something. I, for myself, recently, have asked myself a lot of times whether I should go on to the other side. How can I be passive towards, for example, what is happening in Syria?”

You can find out more about the collective here.