NOV 1, 2013 – Music has been playing a huge role in the Arab Spring and helping to fuel the youth uprisings and calls for progressive changes in their countries. A Danish rapper, Martin Fernando Jakobsen, saw what was happening, and stepped in to help fund Tunisian and activist rappers across the Middle East. Jakobsen has set up "Turning Tables", where he helps young rappers who want to sing about political change get into the studio and get their words out. In an interview on TheNational.ae, he tells Janne Louise Anderson, "The youth movement and the young people's freedom of expression and artistic freedom face an uncertain future because of opposition by powerful conservative forces, societal norms and limited production and expression." Jakobsen also talks about the brutal governmental and police policies that arrest and even jail rappers for expressing their political beliefs. Some rappers in Tunisia have had to go underground after being sentenced to years in prison in absentia, merely for speaking out artistically. Jakobsen also tells Anderson, "We are supporting young people who are fighting for a Tunisia that respects basic freedoms and equal opportunities for all, through the targeted use of art festivals, music events, and the creation of independent media that conveys the youth's views on Tunisia's future." Jakobsen plans to spread his help to Syria and Jordan soon.
Turning Tables allowed Middle East rappers, Vipa, WMD and Katybon, to collaborate on "Up On The Roof" YouTube music video (watch below), and Vipa commented in The National's article, "Tunisians try to move forward with great desire, but there are always some barriers that prevent us from trying to spek about justice, be it political, or economic or social." Read the entire Jakobsen interview on TheNational.ae website here. To learn more about the non-profit Jakobsen has set up to help activist-rappers, check out TurningTables.org.