An American hip hop group offered music lessons to more than 30 aspiring Moroccan artists today at Dar Chabab Hassan II in downtown Ouarzazate.Legacy, a group from East Orange, New Jersey, taught Moroccan youth how to break dance, rap, play drums, guitar and write lyrics.Participants rapped in English and Arabic.“We’re the same! We are the same!’’ the crowd chanted as Legacy members lead them in a rap chant to kick off the workshop.The group, which is on a seven-country tour across North Africa, the Middle East and East Africa, is part of the United States State Department’s Rhythm Road 2011-2012 cultural exchange program. From Morocco, the group heads to Algeria. Legacy’s tour includes Tunisia, Southern Sudan, Egypt, Palestine and Israel,Mohamed Sabir, 13, impressed the group with his great drum performance. A crowd gathered around Sabir as he played. Legacy members were also thrilled by Sabir’s performance.“That boy can play,’’ said Jeremy ‘Bean Clemons, a member of the band.Sabir, a member of the local youth band “New Boys,’’ said the workshop gave aspiring Moroccan musicians a chance to improve their knowledge about music, especially hip hop.“I’m very happy to participate in this event and I’ve learned so many things from the band members, and I would like to thank them for coming to Ouarzazate,” he said.Andrea Appell, public affairs officer for the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca,
said programs such as Rhythm Road are designed to share aspects of American culture with the Moroccan people, especially youth and girls.The U.S. Embassy, she said, is giving Moroccan youth an opportunity to learn how to express their opinions and make their voices heard for the change they want, she said.“We share so many points as a nation, but we’re different individuals,’’ Appell said, alluding to the difference between U.S. and Morocco. “The thing that we’re different in, are the things that will bring us together. It’s wonderful to be a part of this special relationship.’’Before breaking into groups, Legacy members talked to participants about hip hop’s roots in New York’s Bronx neighborhood in the 1970s.Hip hop, he said, grew out of people’s needs to express themselves without using musical instruments, said Yazid “BENU” Muhammad, the group’s founder, who also works with disadvantaged youth in America.“We use our mouth, brain and heart,’’ he said. “It’s all about self expression. I want you to learn how to express yourself in your own language.’’Moroccan youth, he said, have a lot of opportunities to express themselves without hurting anyone.“Moroccan youth love hip hop and they have a great passion and desire to integrate and communicate,’’ he said.Muhammad’s sister, Ihsan sings, writes poetry and lyrics for the group. Ihsan says she incorporates a “street-smart persona’’ on stage as she spreads her ideas of love and urban philosophy through hip hop.She said she’s excited to work with Morocco youth. Before coming to Ouarzazate, the group performed in Errachdia and did a workshop for youth.Amine Haouzan, 18, has been fascinated with hip hop since he was 15. He’s a guitarist for “New Boys.’’ His interest began when he started rhyming with his friends in Arabic.“I just feel proud to have something that belongs to my generation, to my era,’’ he said. “I love hip hop and that’s why I’m here to know more about it to feel it, to show other people my talent.’’
This story was reported by eNews reporters: Mohammad Lokouz, Rihame Al Haiane, Abdelmola Mdiouani and Hassan Ouyahia.
Photos were taken by Berkouch Adbelaziz.