Palestinian MC Saint Levant Drops ‘Deira,’ Honoring Gaza With MC Abdul


Palestinian musicians Saint Levant and MC Abdul have united to release “Deira,” which sees the two artists paying peaceful tribute to the people and culture of Gaza and performing in traditional Shaabi Arab musical style. Levant recently signed with Universal Arabic Music label, founded by Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, manager of the Weeknd and CEO of XO.

“Deira is the name of the hotel that my father, Rashid, an architect, built with my mother in 2000 when they moved to Gaza,” said Levant, who is of Palestinian, Algerian, French and Serbian descent and is currently based in Los Angeles. “Deira means the Kasbah or the old city. He built this hotel with mud because it was impossible to import cement at the time. Located on the beach, this hotel was one of the most beautiful in Gaza, made up of 22 rooms. It was a true architectural marvel. On July 16, 2014, four children playing ball out front of the hotel were killed by Israeli rocket fire and most recently the hotel was totally destroyed by bombing three months ago.

“This song is also a celebration of Palestinian daily life,” he continued. “With a sound inspired by Dahmane El Harrachi, considered the great master of Algerian chaâbi, Deira is anchored in Algerian culture through its sound (where my mother is from) and in Palestinian culture through its words (the land of my father). Deira represents represents a mix of my parents’ cultures.”

Abdul (pictured above, left, in starred hat), who is 15 and an established rapper from Gaza, contributes verses in English to the track. “I’m so happy for this release,” Abdul, who was the subject of a feature in Variety in 2020, said. “It was such an exciting experience for me to be part of this song. This is for my people, this song is for Palestine. And I’m happy I shot this in Jordan with my brother Saint Levant. I can’t wait for us to perform it together.

“The past few months have been very tough on me,” he continued. “I got out of Gaza a month before the war started so I can wrap up some songs and make new releases for my fans. I never realized things would go completely upside down. Some of my family members, friends, neighbors and relatives have passed away from the war. Music is my therapy and I wanted to express myself through this amazing song. It is my comeback song since a few months ago. I will always speak out and represent the culture.”

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