Gaza rapper hopes to hip hop to world stardom

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Palestinian rapper hopes for international career
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Palestinian rapper hopes for international career
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) practices his songs in his room, at home in Gaza City, August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) (2nd L) watches a soccer match with his friends on a rooftop in Gaza City, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
People celebrate during a wedding party in Gaza City, August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) performs at the seaport of Gaza City, August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) (L) performs with a friend on a beach in Gaza City, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) kisses his mother, as his brother who has Down syndrome looks on, at their family home in Gaza City, August 16, 2017. "He sings mostly nationalist songs, about social issues and about our life," Ghunaim's mother said. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) performs with a friend, in front of a mural in Gaza City, August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) cooks with his mother at their home in Gaza City, August 16, 2017. "He sings mostly nationalist songs, about social issues and about our life," Ghunaim's mother said. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) practices his songs in his room, at home in Gaza City, August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) stands on the balcony of his house, with a mural depicting late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, shown in the background on a wall in Gaza City, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) prays in a mosque in Gaza City, August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) performs during a wedding party in Gaza City, August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) practices his songs inside a damaged building in Gaza City, August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) is filmed as he performs in front of destroyed buildings in Gaza City, August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A CD of Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) is displayed in a shop in Gaza City, August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) performs in a studio in Gaza City, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) (R) performs with a friend in a studio in Gaza City, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An editor works on one of the songs of Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza), in a studio in Gaza City, August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) looks on as a child gestures, at his video game shop in Gaza City, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Palestinian rapper Ibrahim Ghunaim (MC Gaza) teaches children about rap, in Gaza City, August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem SEARCH "SALEM RAPPER" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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GAZA, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Ibrahim Ghunaim, or MC Gaza as he likes to be called, raps to a different beat in an Islamist-ruled Palestinian enclave rocked by internal conflict and three wars with Israel over the past decade.

The 25-year-old, who grew up listening to American rapper Eminem, began rapping when he was 13 and hopes for an international career one day.

"I believe I was born to become a rapper," Ghunaim told Reuters.

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It took years to change the public perception of hip hop in the conservative Gaza Strip, which the Hamas movement seized in 2007 from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Rappers in Gaza did not have an easy start, and their first performance in 2005 - to celebrate Israel's withdrawal of troops and settlers - did not go down well.

At the show, a pioneer rap band had to flee the stage after a crowd was angered by what it viewed as offensive hand gestures by the performers.

Ghunaim's songs focus on Gaza's high unemployment, women's rights, young Palestinians jailed by Israel for alleged security offenses and the absence of peace. This year alone, he's written 25 songs.

"He sings mostly nationalist songs, about social issues and about our life," Ghunaim's mother, Adeeba, 64, said as he helped her prepare lunch.

But while social and political tensions and violence provide ample material for his lyrics, Gaza itself is far from fertile ground for nourishing hip hop careers.

It is tough enough for ordinary Palestinians to make a living in the tiny coastal territory hemmed in by Israel and Egypt. Citing security concerns, the two countries have contributed to Gaza's woes by keeping tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods across its borders.

Many local hip hop performers have either migrated or stopped performing because they cannot find sponsorship, Ghunaim said, adding that he was also looking to leave, though not before he makes his mark at home.

He is working on a new album that he says will be his final one in Gaza.

"I am making it the best of all of my works. I am using 10 kinds of music merged together, and that is the first time in the rap art here and abroad," he said.

"I want to become famous before I quit Gaza."

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