The staccato rhythms of rap and the searing anger of young hip-hop poets don’t belong only to the streets of urban America. Meet Kobi Shimoni -- better known to his thronging Israeli fans as the rapper Subliminal, whose politically charged, patriotic raps have found a huge following among young Israelis searching for a new sound of protest, with no apologies for his radical
reinvention of Hebrew and his proud Zionist message.
Channels of Rage, shot over three years, tracks the rise of Subliminal’s career and the entrance on the scene of his protégé, an Israeli Arab rapper named Tamer Nafar. At first in awe of Subliminal’s talent, then gradually his equal on Tel Aviv club stages, Tamer begins to find his own voice -- and the language of his people -- and quickly becomes a phenomenon in his own right as a powerful Arabic hip-hopper with little tolerance for the increasingly nationalist stance of his mentor. The growing acrimony between the two rivals -- whose friendship once represented a kind of twinned musical hope for coexistence -- forms the central drama in this breakneck, energizing, painful, and very real film. The power of these artists’ word imagery alone, as they transform the rhythms of American hip-hop into desperate, jagged outbursts for justice between two peoples, is simply breathtaking.
Anat Halachmi is a freelance writer on cultural subjects. She produced and researched for the book/television series The Melting Pot Cuisine about 12 Israeli families from different ethnic origins, documenting their cuisine. This year she wrote, directed and produced the documentary Channels of Rage, about the rappers Subliminal and Tamer Nafer, which took the BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, 2003.