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Iranian hip hop

Music of Iran
General topics
Specific forms
Ethnic music
Other forms
Media and performance
Music festivals
Music media
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem

Iranian hip hop, also referred to as Persian hip hop,[1][2][3] refers to hip hop music developed in Iran.[4][5][6] It is rooted in American hip hop culture, although homegrown Iranian elements have also been incorporated.[7].


Iranian hip hop originates from Tehran, the country's capital city, although a number of experimental works were recorded earlier by diasporan Iranian musicians based in Los Angeles.[8] Iranian rappers started out by recording mixtapes influenced by their western counterparts. Some combined hip hop with Iranian elements, including Iran's classical music.[7] Hip hop music industry in Iran has usually been restricted to an underground scene. On several occasions, recording studios have been shut down, websites have been blocked, and artists have been arrested.[9][10] Only a few works have managed to get officially sanctioned by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.[11] Hip-hop dance is also present in underground movements, with some performances having received limited permission.[12]

Iran's premier rap group, 021, named after the telephone area code of Tehran, was founded during the 1990s.[6] Hichkas, the lead figure of this group, came to be one of Iran's earliest renowned rappers.[7] His well-received album Jangale Asfalt ("Asphalt Jungle"), produced by Mahdyar Aghajani, incorporated a fusion with Middle Eastern harmonies and contributed remarkably to the evolution of Iranian hip hop.[7][13][14] The 021 music group was co-founded by the Yashar and Shayan duo, later renamed Vaajkhonyaa.[15][16]

Zedbazi, founded in April 2002, is regarded as the pioneer of gangsta rap in Iran.[9][10] The band quickly gained a huge popularity among the youth, due mainly to their use of explicit lyrics, littered with profanity and depictions of sex and drug use.[17] They are credited with starting a new movement in Iranian music.[18]

Bahram Nouraei, an underground and formerly arrested Iranian hip hop singer,[19][20] was listed as one of the "50 People Shaping The Culture Of The Middle East" by HuffPost in August 2012.[21] His most popular work, Inja Irane ("Here is Iran"), was described as a "poignant critique of the country" by Rolling Stone.[22]

Shahin Najafi was head of an underground music band in Iran before his immigration to Germany, but he was banned for his offenses towards the Islamic faith in Iran by the Iranian government after his second music show.

Following the release of the song "Ay Naghi!" ("Hey, Naghi!"), Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, a 94-year-old Shi’ite cleric based in Qom, issued a fatwa death sentence against Najafi for apostasy. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem-Shirazi, a "source of emulation" for many Shia Muslims, also issued a fatwa declaring Najafi guilty of apostasy.

Yas was the first Iranian rapper to be authorized to perform in Iran.[23][24] He reached national fame through his work CD ro Beshkan ("Break the Disk"), which was written about an Iranian actress who was subjected to a sex tape scandal. On 21 December 2011, he was chosen by voters as the "Artist of the Week" on MTV, entitled "Tehran's Hard-Hitting MC".[25]

Despite the more stringent restrictions on women, Salome MC became a pioneer among women who contributed to Iranian hip hop music.[9][10] She started her career collaborating with Hichkas,[6] and later moved outside Iran and had a few performances.[26]


See also


  1. ^ Sadaghiyani, Shima (6 February 2017). "No one knows about Persian rap". The Michigan Daily.
  2. ^ di Giovanni, Janine (16 August 2016). "Iranian Rap Music Flourishes Underground Despite Strict Religious Laws in Tehran". Newsweek.
  3. ^ Haidari, Nilu (23 January 2017). "How Hip-Hop Connected the Iranian Diaspora and Taught Me to Swear in Farsi". Noisey.
  4. ^ Arjomand, Noah (22 April 2010). "Rap in the Capital: Hip-Hop Tehran-Style". Frontline.
  5. ^ "Why Iran is cracking down on rap music". The Daily Telegraph. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Dagres, Holly (6 January 2014). "Iran's thriving rap culture". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d "پشت دیوار کیه؟ رپ ایرانی؟". Hamshahri (in Persian). Archived from the original on 17 July 2011.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  8. ^ "ریویل، رپ خون ایرانی در لندن" [Reveal, Iranian Rapper in London]. BBC Persian. 12 May 2006. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  9. ^ a b c "Rebels of rap reign in Iran". SFGate. 16 April 2008.
  10. ^ a b c "Iran's 'illegal' rappers want cultural revolution". The Independent. 28 January 2008.
  11. ^ "روزنامه اعتماد ملی 85/6/28 – رپ ایرانی ، صدای اعتراض نیست". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Iran's underground hip hop dance scene". France 24. 29 August 2013.
  13. ^ Shahrad, Cyrus. "Hichkas the prophet of protest". Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Social Networking Sites Aid Iranians Trying to Assert Identity". Voice of America. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Hichkas on Sakkou" (in Persian). Sakkou. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Vaajkhonyaa on PHH". Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Inside Iran's 'revolutionary' rap". Al Jazeera. 9 September 2014.
  18. ^ Ahmadi, Ardeshir (director) (10 January 2014). Zedbazi Documentary (Documentary film). Tehran.
  19. ^ "Bahram, An Iranian Rapper". 10 September 2011.
  20. ^ "Mideast Tunes Fall MENA Mix!". 15 September 2015.
  21. ^ "50 People Shaping The Culture Of The Middle East". The Huffington Post. 9 August 2012.
  22. ^ Ashcraft, Julie. "The Great Escape". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  23. ^ Kimball, Cody (19 October 2008). "Iranian Rapper speaks of Peace at film screening". Western Herald. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  24. ^ Cherayil, Neena (26 March 2009). "Iranian Filmmaker Sarmast and Rapper YAS to Visit Campus". The Daily Gazette.
  25. ^ Bondy, Halley (14 December 2011). "YAS: Persian Rap Royalty". Archived from the original on 27 April 2013.
  26. ^ Khaleeli, Homa (10 May 2011). "Salome: straight outta Tehran". The Guardian.