A topical rap collaboration between a young boy in Gaza and a Cork beatmaker has gone viral, clocking up over 2.7 million views in two days.
The video clip for 'Palestine' by Abdalrahman’s Alshantti – aka MC Abdul, or MCA Rap – features the 12-year-old walking past bombed buildings in his neighbourhood in Gaza as he raps about the current situation in the region.
The rap was recorded over an Eminem instrumental track by Cork producer Garry McCarthy (GMC Beats), who has been helping to mentor the young Palestinian since 2019.
Among the celebrities to reference the video has been American hip-hop star DJ Khaled who shared it on his Instagram account. Abdul has also had shares from supermodel Bella Hadid and American actor/musician Tyrese Gibson.
As the death toll mounts from the Israeli attacks on Gaza, with 58 children among the almost 200 casualties so far, McCarthy admits he's very worried about Abdul and his family.
“They sent me recordings of what they've had to listen to at night, and I'm still shook after hearing those explosions,” says the producer and teacher, based at the Kabin Studio in Hollyhill.
“What's going on is really shameful. Abdul has been telling us how his young sister and brother are crying at night. Their mother has to tell them it's fireworks. I send them a text in the morning to check that they're ok, and when he replies, I'm like, 'Thank God!'.”
McCarthy hopes the new track will help focus attention on what's happening in Gaza, and encourage people to speak out about it.
“That's all we can do. It's just to get the word out. And it's probably good for people to hear a child talk about the situation, as in wars, you usually hear the men and other adults,” says McCarthy. He points out that Abdul has already experienced four periods of warfare by the age of 12.
On the new track, Abdul also references the fact that his grandparents were forced to flee their homes and enter a refugee camp in 1948 with the foundation of Israel. The family has been living in Gaza ever since.
Abdul's association with Cork also involves Leeside native, Liam Ahern, who has been teaching him English online, to augment what he has learned from watching American films and listening to rap music. Ahern forms part of a group of Cork people, along with McCarthy and DJ Stephen Grainger (Stevie G), who've been helping Abdul.
“He really feels like one of the Cork music family at this stage,” says Grainger. “We've had him linking in to a few music events with the lads at the Kabin, and it's great seeing him interact with the Cork kids of his own age.
"We all feel a bit helpless at the moment, and it is a worry. This kid is into soccer and loves Messi, just like any Irish kid... you think this is the stuff he should be talking about, not worried about having bombs dropped on him.”