Gazan hip-hop teen sensation MC Abdul has released another powerful song detailing the plight of Palestinians living under the bombardment of the Israeli army.
The release of What is it Worth? comes after Egypt brokered a truce between Israel and militant group Islamic Jihad on Monday, halting an intense round of conflict in Gaza that has left at least 44 Palestinians dead, including 15 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The song, which MC Abdul uploaded to his Instagram account on Monday, 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."
The searing one-minute track comes with a video, shot in a single take, in which Abdul performs on a busy Gaza street with Palestinian youths watching on.
As the camera pans around the street, we see an open-air cafe teeming with people and a number of incinerated vehicles.
Abdul goes on to recite some of the emotional and physical trauma experienced by young Palestinians, from indiscriminate detention to “killing and death on the rise.”
“Our lungs are full of dust, we're struggling to breathe.
“We Gaza kids want to see the future, not rubble in the streets.”
Abdul signs off with a plea for a brighter future: “I’m just a seed of peace, I have seen strife, yeah, all my life and I'm just 13.”
What is it Worth? has already received a strong reception online with more than 20,000 likes on Instagram within the first three hours and nearly 1,000 comments of support, including a prayer emoji from US hip-hop star Fat Joe.
In the accompanying post to the music video, Abdul sent his own message to fellow Palestinians, imploring them to remain resilient amid the carnage.
“The last few days were rough, our wounds will never heal,” he sings.
“To the people that have lost loved ones, stay strong. Free Palestine.”
Who is MC Abdul?
Real name Abdulrahman Al-Shantti, the rapper first made waves with his debut single Palestine, which was released during the previous wave of conflict in May 2021 and went viral.
The track had 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 rapper.
Under the new deal, MC Abdul released Shouting at the Wall the following month, another powerful track about life in Palestine.
"I am exhausted. Last night I couldn't sleep and when I did, I heard bombs in my sleep," Abdul raps, over Irish producer GMC Beats’s reflective arrangements, which feature lamenting oud notes.
The track also touches on how hip-hop is his solace during challenging times: "The power that I have in my pen, when I'm writing I am unstoppable. The microphone is the only escape possible.”
MC Abdul followed this up by appearing as guest artist on The Beat Never Goes Off, a single from Tamer Nafar, member of acclaimed Palestinian hip-hop crew Dam.
In a 2021 interview with Nafar for Variety, MC Abdul recalled that it was listening to Eminem's Not Afraid at aged 5 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.”