Gaza teen rapper MC Abdul performs his first-ever concert at Qatar World Cup

Palestinian singer, 13, used the occasion to release his new single Can I Live

MC Abdul performs at Doha's Oxygen Park as part of the World Cup 2022 festivities. Photo: Instagram / @mca.rap
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MC Abdul’s career reached new ground this week with the Gazan hip-hop teen sensation performing the very first show of his career.

Appearing as part of the Fifa World Cup 2022 festivities, the singer aged 13 played his maiden concert at Doha’s Oxygen Park, with a fast-moving set featuring some of the potent tracks that made him an internet sensation, garnering the support of major hip-hop stars including DJ Khaled and Fat Joe.

“My first trip outside Gaza. My first time on stage. I want to do this again,” he said on Instagram, alongside images of the show.

MC Abdul also used his performance in Qatar to launch the new single Can I Live, now available on all major streaming platforms.

The song finds MC Abdul slightly moving away from detailing the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation to take on new themes such as self-growth.

“I got plans to grow up, my future's so bright,” he raps. “We just want to have a good time. A good life, trying to get mine. MC, yeah I kick rhymes. Palestine, yeah, I'm big time.”

That said, references to home are prevalent sonically and lyrically.

Composed by The ANMLS, the US production crew behind tracks for The Weeknd and French Montana, the song features a stomping old-school hip-hop beat laced with a fluttering oud sample.

Who is MC Abdul?

Real name Abdulrahman Al-Shantti, the rapper first made waves with his debut single Palestine, which was released during a previous wave of conflict in May last year, when it went viral.

The track features MC Abdul rapping about the Palestinian cause over beats of Eminem’s Cleanin' Out My Closet.

“Because my only mission is to make people listen,” the lyrics go, “this one is for Sheikh Jarrah, hoping it can make a difference.”

The success of the track caught the attention of Empire, the US record label and music distribution company founded in 2010 by Palestinian-American entrepreneur Ghazi Shami, who promptly signed the young rapper.

Under the deal, MC Abdul released Shouting at the Wall the following month, another powerful track about life in Palestine, and appeared as a guest artist on The Beat Never Goes Off, a single from Tamer Nafar, member of the acclaimed Palestinian hip-hop crew DAM.

In August, he released another powerful song detailing the plight of Palestinians living under the bombardment of the Israeli army.

In What is it Worth?, he questions the futility of the ongoing conflict that has left generations of Palestinians growing up amid the devastation of their homeland.

“What is it worth? Seeing my nation in mourning, seeing innocent lives destroyed?” Abdul sings, over a dark marauding beat supplied by Canadian producer Adium.

“What is it worth? Living my life under siege, I pray for the day I am free.”

In an interview last year with Nafar for Variety, MC Abdul recalled that it was listening to Eminem's Not Afraid, at age five, that got him interested in rap and, despite his potent lyrics, he doesn't view himself as a political artist.

“My message is about peace. Not the political side of it,” he said.

“I don’t understand what politics is — the thing I’m trying to say is that I want the children of the world to live in peace and harmony and I want to be the voice of the children in Palestine.

“I want to show people about my life, and what it means to be a rapper in Gaza City.”

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Updated: December 18, 2022, 10:25 AM