Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 12:33 UK

Gaza rappers find their audience

By Sami Sahmoud
BBC, Gaza

Darg Team
Darg Team say there is more to Gaza than fighting

Unlike many young Palestinians, leaving Gaza for a better life abroad is not on the agenda for the members of Gaza's most famous rap band, the Darg Team.

Formed in 2004, the band now has many fans both in Gaza and beyond.

I met five of the band members in a quite cafe in the strip.

Sami, Antar, Bassam, Ahmed and Mohamed Masri are all there but the sixth member, Marouf, is studying for his university exams.

They first impression you get about these young men is that they are full of life and most importantly optimistic about the future of Gaza despite the many problems it faces.

The recent conflict with Israel has in particular affected the territory and influences their work.

Because we perform a new music in Gaza we have to explain to people that we are not Americans

In one of their latest songs about the Gaza war they thank everyone for their support during the conflict.

They used to meet to smoke shisha (water pipes) during the three-hour pauses in the fighting given by the Israeli army to the people of Gaza to get food and supplies.

Permission to perform

Although Darg Team is doing Western-style hip-hop music they insist that their lyrics and rhythms is Eastern.

They sing about Palestine, childhood, friendship and the political divisions in Palestinian society.

Before Hamas took sole control of Gaza in June 2007, they were able to organise parties without permission.

Now, the new authorities in Gaza still allow them to perform but they have to get permission first.

They say as many as 700 people turn up for their gigs. In the crowd are boys and girls and families although they sit in separate sections.

Darg Team performs
Darg Team have to get permission from the authorities before performing

"Because we perform a new music in Gaza we have to explain to people that we are not Americans," Antar says.

He says many people in Gaza dislike Western styles of music, or indeed anything to do with the West, and so the band struggles against being grouped with American and European acts.

It was even difficult to get their families' approval for what they are doing.

The Darg Team say they don't belong to any political faction in Gaza but belong to Palestinians as a whole.

Most of them are students and five volunteer for work with the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Their aim now is to travel and perform in different countries to tell the story of Gaza as seen by people who live in Gaza.

"We love Gaza," Antar told me. "If we hated Gaza we wouldn't sing for it".

Sami had the chance live in Norway, where many Gazans move if given the chance. But he says there is something about Gaza that keeps him there.

"Not everybody in Gaza is a fighter or member of the resistance," says Bassam. "There is more to Gaza than fighting."

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