Meet 22-year-old rapper Hamada Ben Amor, a.k.a. "El Général," whose lyrics help inspire the revolutions that gripped the Arab world. Metro sat down with the young musician to discuss the events of the past year.
Your song `Rais Lebled´ ignited the people’s uproar in Tunisia, the ‘Jasmine Revolution.’ Even the people on Tahir square in Egypt listened to it. How did it all begin?
I have always written about politics and such important things, never about love. ‘Rais Lebled’ wasn’t my first song, I released one last December that influenced people very much. After I released it, the police came and arrested me because I had voiced such strong criticism towards the president. I was in police custody for three days. They were planning to hurt me, I am sure of it, but another thing happened. The media found out I had been captured and the president ordered that the police would not touch me, he got scared that it would become a big thing.
Were you afraid?
Of course. But I wasn’t thinking so much about the fear because if I had I couldn’t have written the songs.
You have been named in TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. How do you react to that? How did you feel when the demonstrators listened to your music for power?
I was proud, I felt joy. It has influenced me that my words have given people strength. I felt that even if I had died there, it wouldn’t have made me sad.
What is Tunisia like today?
The situation is unclear. Of course I am happy about what has happened, but we must carry on, we are not finished yet.
How will you carry on?
I have criticized the new politicians who took over and I will continue doing that. There is nothing I haven’t said, I have even called them political dogs. I have written a song called The Second Revolution, because we need one. But right now I’m in a phase where I need to take a break, sit back and watch...let the people act.
Will the young people keep fighting?
The youth of Tunisia are divided in two, there are young people who want to keep on fighting and there are young people who don’t care about anything, so it is hard to tell if there will be a continuation. Some people are beginning to forget that there has been a revolution.