a monthly radio show on critically acclaimed Palestinian Radio Al Hara, celebrates the rich musical heritage and contemporary artists from Iraq.
Born during the early months of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in India, IRAQAFELLA Radio started as a way for Delhi-based label owner, boxout.fm co-founder and DJ MoCity to cope with living alone and away from family by rediscovering his music roots.
Alongside a number of friends and frequent collaborators, IRAQAFELLA Radio the show came to life. With features from the likes of artist and writer Sundus Abdulhadi, Iraqi-Canadian rapper, author, university instructor and director Narcy (who also coined the name of the show), Dubai- based creative Zayelkenz and London-based creative director/producer Abdulisms. Each episode explores a branch of sonic heritage for the artists in the form of guest mixes and radio specials.
The radio’s first transmission was hosted by Sundus Abdul Hadi with a crate digger's selection of Iraqi classics including features from The Iraqi Rhythmic Band, Farida, Sita Hagopian & Zuhur Hussein. Iraqi Maqam, Chobi, Chalghi and Songstresses. As nostalgic anthems of a bygone era, the show alludes to first wave of forced migration from Iraq in the ‘90s and to joyous gatherings of the diaspora in different parts of world in spite of their trials and tribulations and a yearning for home, which they would never find in the way the left it.
The show first aired on Radio Al Hara broadcasting from Bethlehem, Palestine, in September 2020 and is now available via Youtube, Soundcloud and Mixcloud.
Articulated through her artistic practice, writing and curation, Sundus’ work is a sensitive reflection on trauma, struggle, and care. She is the author/illustrator of Shams, a children’s book about trauma, transformation and healing.
Her latest book titled “Take Care of Your Self: The Art and Cultures of Care and Liberation” (Common Notions, November 2020) is a non-fiction book about care, curation and community. The Montreal-based artist is also the cofounder of We Are The Medium, an artist collective and culture point.
Sundus' work has been exhibited in Palestine, Canada, United States, United Arab Emirates, France, United Kingdom and New Zealand. She has given workshops in Australia, Iraq and Kuwait, and has been a speaker at Nuqat (Kuwait), the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Telfair Museums in Savannah, GA, the Aga Khan Museum and multiple universities in Canada and the US. Abdul Hadi is a two-time recipient of the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Quebec (CALQ) Vivacite grant and received the Makers Muse award from Kindle Project (2018). Her work is part of the Barjeel Art Foundation collection.
IRAQAFELLA Radio's second episode is dedicated to a titan and undeniable ambassador of Iraqi music. Dubbed “The Ceasar” Kadim Al Sahir has established himself as one of the most successful singers in the history of the Arab World. With a catalogue of music ranging from big romantic ballads to pop to Arab classical music and other political work.
He performs with an orchestra of twenty to thirty musicians on Arabic percussion, oud, qanun, nay, and a full complement of strings (violin, cello, and bass). His work frequently features Iraqi folk instruments, rhythms and melodies. In 2003, according to an international poll conducted by BBC, more than half-a million people from 165 countries voted his composition Ana Wa Laila (Me and Laila-his most famous song about his love for Laila), as the sixth most popular songs of all time.
With the show hosted and produced by DJ Mocity, it's a trip back to where it all begins in 1987. His own birth coinciding with the official release of one of Kadim’s earliest singles “Ladghat Al Hayah” - لدغة الحية - just one year before the end of the Iraq-Iran war. At the time it was the source of a major controversy due to particular sensitivities that were common during that era. Iraqi television officials had asked Kadim to either change the lyrics or face having it banned. His refusal to change the lyrics and its consequent ban only helped to increase the popularity of the song through the ages thus making it the obvious choice to kick off the show.
With his work finding a global footprint, the episode features a special EXCLUSIVE Kadim remix from IRAQAFELLA music producer Sandhill, a pioneering figure in Arabic hip-hop. Having co-founded hip-hop outfit Euphrates alongside his late brother Nofy Fannan and The Narcicyst in the early 2000s, Nawar is a trailblazer in blending classical Arabic quarter notes with boom bap. He has collaborated with some of the luminaries of contemporary Arab music, boasting works with the likes of Shadia Mansour, DAM, Omar Offendum, Lowkey, 47Soul, Yasmine Hamdan and Mashrou’ Leila.
He has scored films such as "Voices of Iraq'' and his music has been featured in major motion picture films.
The host of the show, DJ MoCity is an Iraqi-born DJ, MC, promoter and co-founder of Boxout FM. A New Delhi-based online radio station that has been in existence since April 2017. It came into being at a time when a community-run platform showcasing alternative music and its related cultures in India did not exist.
As a radio station, boxout.fm presents a carefully-mined perspective on India’s emergent musical and cultural scenes, one that is wholly curated by individuals rather than algorithms. The station was recently featured on a list of The Guardians 10 best online radio stations in 2021.
Mo’s influence has come to reach far beyond the borders of the indian subcontinent, having co-founded Reggae Rajahs, the first Reggae Sound System in India. DJ MoCity is also a co-founder of The 264 Cru, a Dubai-based music, arts and culture collective and 264 Records; a record label based in the same city.
Since his early days as a hip-hop loving teenager in New Delhi, he has grown into a highly experienced and respected musical taste maker whose personal choices and interests in music and building sustainable models for alternative/underground music scenes and independent artists have illuminated the way for thousands more to follow.
On its third transmission out of Bethlehem, Palestine on Radio Al Hara IRAQAFELLA Radio drops a mix featuring an all-star lineup of legendary Iraqi songstresses with special guest Zayelkenz, an Iraqi, Dubai-based creative and friend of the IRAQAFELLA family.
Born in Baghdad, zayelkenz – also known as “mako kenz” – is a longtime music aficionado, who contributed to IRAQAFELLA’s third transmission out of Bethlehem, Palestine on Radio Al Hara. IRAQAFELLA Radio dropped a mix featuring an all-star lineup of legendary Iraqi songstresses from Soad Abduallah to Sajda Obaid with special guest zayelkenz.
In addition, she has a monthly show with Dubai-based artist Maryam every second Tuesday on independent Tunis-based radio station Ma3azef. You can expect music from all over the region when you tune in.
When she’s not curating mixes and playlists, the jewellery designer behind Kenz Studioz also runs lifestyle brand Shabab Intl alongside her twin brother and best friend.
In December, IRAQAFELLA Radio returns with an all-Iraqi hip-hop special to see out 2020. An exclusive selection of the country's finest underground MCs and rappers home and abroad rounds up the show’s fourth transmission on Radio Al Hara. The team comes together from three corners of the globe with DJ Mocity spinning and recording from New Delhi India, Iraqi-Canadian rapper, author, university instructor, director and founder of IRAQ-A-FELLA Narcy aka Yassin Al Salman tuning in from Montreal, Canada with some hot selections and exclusive drops. The show is co-presented by London-based Iraqi creative director/producer Abdulisms.
Yassin 'Narcy' Alsalman, formerly known as the Narcicyst, is a musician, actor, professor and multimedia artist based out of Montreal, Canada. Being a pioneer of the Arab hip-hop movement through his Iraqi trio Euphrates in the early 2000s, Yassin AlSalman was a seminal member of a growing voice in the public sphere.
Currently teaching one of Canada's only hip-hop courses at Concordia University in Montreal, Narcy ethos has been to blend performance with education, media with literacy and creativity with cultural heritage. Yassin is also currently heading an international body of artists WeAreTheMedium, a family of independent creatives that come together for curation, performance, consultation and product based creation.
IRAQAFELLA'S fifth radio transmission is a dedication to the Iraqi National football team and its fans worldwide. A team often seen as a symbol of the Iraqi people’s hope and resilience, the team has been no stranger to rising to the challenges of excelling despite war, sanctions and punishing regimes. In 2007, they were the source of immense joy, national unity and celebration in the midst of chaos for a nation of Iraqi people when they won the AFC Asian cup in a historic 1-0 defeat of the Saudi Arabian National team in the Cup final.
This prompted a resurgence in a popular genre of music in Iraq that praised, celebrated and even cautioned other teams of trying to mess with the champions. Players of that generation often found themselves immortalised in song, called out by name and footballing achievements in gratitude from an adoring scene of musicians, songwriters and fans. It was a historic moment of validation for a struggling people. After all, Iraq had reached the final against expectations, with the team being forced to train outside of their country, suffering from transport problems and a lack of facilities.
After eliminating South Korea in the semi-finals, Iraq almost pulled out of the final when two bomb attacks targeted celebrating fans and killed at least 50 people, including a 12 year old supporter. The team would famously go on to dedicate the win to the grieving mother in a welcome home ceremony in Baghdad’s heavily fortified greenzone.
It was a bittersweet moment for fans and the team’s captain and winning goalscorer Younis Mahmoud. Who couldn’t be there with the team to celebrate. After clinching victory in the final with a late header, skipper Mahmoud told reporters in Jakarta: "I wish I could go back to Baghdad to celebrate, but who will secure my life? "In Iraq you do not know who will kill you... I wish the Americans hadn't invaded Iraq and I hope we will get rid of them very soon."
Even after emerging victorious as continental champions Iraq was yet to see any move from FIFA to lift the ban on hosting international games in the country. One that had been in effect since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait that sparked an international embargo. FIFA's ban, covering all but local matches, stayed in place after the American-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein. FIFA eventually lifted the ban in 2018, marking the dawn of a new era for Iraqi football.
This episode celebrates the special occasion of the team coming home in 2021 where they host Kuwait in an international friendly in Basra, marking their first match on Iraqi soil since the two sides played in Baghdad more than 30 years ago.
With a selection of some of these stadium and tournament anthems DJ Mocity and Abdulisms revisit some of the team's highs and lows throughout the years with a 90-minute -no injury time- selection of legendary Iraqi footballing music. Featuring messages and excerpts from Iraqi listeners around the globe.
Since the show’s airing, the Iraqi team went on to win its international friendly against Kuwait in Basra with a nail-biting injury time winner to put them past the line at 2-1, and the songs keep coming.