Grande surprises Filipino boyband on ‘Corden’
A youth-led protest movement in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra, which saw riots last summer over failing services and soaring unemployment, has found an artistic outlet in the words and beats of homegrown rapper Ahmed Chayeb.
The 22-year-old rapper, also known as Mr Guti, says his generation is fed up with the false piety of politicians and religious authorities who preach about faith and duty but have let Basra fall apart.
“We need to be critical of everything that’s not right,” Chayeb told The Associated Press in a recent interview in his home studio, where he recorded “This is Basra”, lashing out at the powerful Shiite religious establishment.
Mr Guti’s expertly produced music videos have drawn tens of thousands of YouTube viewers but his new-found fame has also brought danger: threats from hard-liners are common and two of the city’s protest organizers have been killed in recent attacks. Their killers remain at large.
Basra, long known around the Persian Gulf for its drinking establishments and its maritime vibe, fell under conservative rule after Shiite clerics and militias took over the city in the vacuum caused by the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
Once renowned for its canals and markets, Basra’s waterways today are clogged with waste, and its drinking water is filthy. The city erupted in violent unrest last summer that led to demonstrators burning down government and party-affiliated buildings.
Amid the revolt, rap offered Basra’s youth – tired of joblessness and failed services – an opportunity for lyrics blistering with criticism.
In “This is Basra”, Chayeb raps against the backdrop of a march around the city’s burning municipal building during last summer’s protests, asking why his generation has been called on to fight a war for leaders who cannot secure water for the city.
“We were martyred for this war, I fell, and the authority has forgotten my loyalty,” he raps.
“You’re not associated with Hussein,” he goes on, invoking the revered Shiite imam and grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who died in the 7th century Battle of Karbala, and whose example Iraq’s leaders have asked their youth to follow.
Chayeb, mindful of the dangers, is circumspect about where and when he performs. He says most of his concerts are arranged through private contacts; he stopped recording at a professional studio in 2016. He said he’s received death threats that have grown more intimidating in recent months. But he won’t stop rapping.
LOS ANGELES: The Filipino boy band TNT Boys gained an extra member Tuesday night when pop-star Ariana Grande made a surprise appearance during the group’s performance on “The Late Late Show With James Corden”.
After winning Filipino competition show “Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids”, band members Keifer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto, and Francis Concepcion have continued to solidify their rising-star status with appearances on a number of television series, including CBS’ talent search show “World’s Best”.
Corden, who also hosts “World’s Best”, invited the singing trio to perform “Dreamgirls’” anthem “And I Am Telling You” on the “Late Late Show”.
Before taking the stage to belt out a powerful rendition of the ballad, the group gushed about their obsession with Ariana Grande.
“I love Ariana Grande’s voice, and I love her attitude,” Concepcion said to nods from his fellow band members. Meanwhile, Grande stood backstage watching the interview from a secret television screen, teasing her own on-screen appearance. (Agencies)
The boys’ performance featured their impressive vocal range alongside numerous three-part harmonies and complicated vocal rifts. But as they hit the song’s refrain, Grande also hit the stage, breaking up the group and bringing Concepcion to his knees.
“I’m obsessed with you guys. You guys are so incredible,” she said after the performance. “That was so beautiful.”
Later in the show, Grande also sat down with Corden to discuss becoming the first solo artist to have the top three songs in the country at the same time.
By Nabil Al-Jurani and Aassim Abdul-Zahra