Shadia Mansour

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Not to be confused with Shazia Manzoor.

Shadia Mansour
شادية منصور
Also known asFirst Lady of Arabic Hip Hop
Born1985 (age 33–34)
OriginLondon, England
GenresHip hop
Years active2003–present
Associated actsLowkey, M-1 of Dead Prez, Anita Tijoux, Logic, SAZ, DAM, Omar Offendum

Shadia Mansour (Arabic: شادية منصورShādiyah Manṣūr, born 1985), also known as "the first lady of Arabic hip hop" [1] is a British Palestinian singer and MC who sings and raps in Arabic and English. Much of her music focuses on Middle East politics.

Personal life[edit]

Mansour was born in London in 1985. Her parents are Christian Palestinians originally from Haifa and Nazareth.[2] She grew up in the UK and spent summers visiting relatives in Haifa and Nazareth, including her cousin, Juliano Mer-Khamis.[2] Influenced by Arabic performers such as Fairouz, Umm Kulthum and Mohammed Abdel Wahab,[1][2] Mansour began singing at Palestinian protest rallies as a child and she became known in London's Palestinian community for performing classical Arab songs of protest at an early age.[3] She went on to study performing arts before beginning her career as an MC.[2]


Mansour began rapping in 2003 and has gained recognition in the Middle East, Europe and the United States for her own songs and collaborations with other artists. She performs wearing a traditional Palestinian thawb and has said that she considers herself to be part of a "musical intifada" against the occupation of Palestine, conservatism and oppression of women.[2] Mansour's first single, "Al Kufiya Arabiya" (The Kufiya is Arab), featured rapper M-1 of dead prez and lyrics emphasizing the kufiya's role as a symbol of Arab nationalism.[2][4] The song was written when Mansour discovered an American made blue-and-white colored Arab scarf with Stars of David on it. Mansour introduced her song on stage in New York: "You can take my falafel and hummus, but don’t fucking touch my keffiyeh".[2]

Mansour has recorded music with producer Johnny "Juice" Rosado of Public Enemy[5] and was featured on Chuck D's website[3] She has also collaborated with artists like Iraqi rappers Lowkey and Narcy, and Palestinian hip-hop group DAM.[2][5] Mansour has toured with Existence is Resistance, an organization supporting hip-hop shows in Palestine, and is part of the "Arab League" of Hip Hop, a collection of performers who share views on the Middle East.[2][3][6]


Mansour's political raps have criticized Israel's occupation of Palestine[2] as well as Israel's role in the Gaza War which began in 2008.[1] Mansour said, "My music sometimes sounds hostile. It's my anger coming out and it's resistance. It's non-violent resistance."[1] Mansour's early work emphatically supported the Palestinian resistance movement with what Rolling Stone called a "hardcore stance on Palestinian nationalism".[2]

Over time her views evolved to appreciate more of the complexity in the region, and her music came to reflect that; Monsour describes that she has become more “realistic” in her lyrics.[2] In 2007 Mansour called for Hamas and Fatah to stop fighting. In 2008 Mansour's track "Kulun 'Andun Dababat” (They All Have Tanks) included Tamer and Suhell Nafar from an Israel-based Palestinian hip-hop group DAM; Suhell's lyrics made clear that neither Fatah nor Hamas received his support.[2]

While challenging Israel's policies, Mansour also takes a stand against gender stereotyping of women both in hip-hop culture and Palestinian society.[2] She has refused to perform to gender-separated audiences.[2] Mansour's music has been challenged by conservatives within Palestine, and Mansour has addressed that opposition to her music in her lyrics.[2] She initially tried to change her voice to sound more like male MCs, but over time Mansour has developed her own style as a female MC while rejecting the sexualization of women in hip-hop.[2] Mansour typically performs in a traditional Palestinian gown that covers most of her body, and notes that she is "kind of old fashioned."[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "British Palestinian rapper conducts a 'musical intifada'". BBC News Online. 7 Sep 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010. See also "Palestinians, Israelis boogey ecstatically together in West Bank as 70s band belts out its nostalgic disco tunes at open-air concert". Ynet. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Andersen, Janne Louise (4 Sep 2011). "The Passion, Politics and Power of Shadia Mansour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Joshua Asen, "The Arab League of Hip Hop", Foreign Policy Magazine Online, 3 May 2010, accessed 27 Dec 2010
  4. ^ Shadia Mansour Ft M1 (Dead Prez)-Al Kufiyyeh 3arabiyyeh (Official Video) on YouTube
  5. ^ a b Iara Lee, "Hip Hop as Global Resistance", The Huffington Post, 27 July 2010, accessed 27 Dec 2010.
  6. ^ Arab League Rap

External links[edit]