Sosan Firooz makes for an unlikely hip-hop star. The 23-year-old Afghan grew up as a refugee in Iran and Pakistan, and now lives in a mud brick house with the rest of her family. But her first video hit, Our Neighbors, has established Firooz as the first female rapper in Afghanistan — and brought down death threats on her relatives, reports the Associated Press.
“If your daughter appears on TV again, we will cut off your head,” an anonymous phone call warned Firooz’s mother, who tries to keep Firooz’s unconventional career a secret, the AP reports. Her uncle has severed ties with her family. Her father, meanwhile, quit his job as an employee at a government electric company to become her full-time bodyguard.
Firooz, however, said she won’t be silenced by threats. What needs to stop, she said, is abuse against children and women. “How long should we keep the silence?” Firooz told a CBS reporter. “There’s a need for people to rise up and others to follow.”
In a country where many women go around covered from head to toe, Firooz appeared in her music video with flowing long hair and make-up, wearing hip-hop accessories like a bandana and a skull necklace. But unlike her counterparts in the West, she raps about the pain of being called “a dirty Afghan” as a child when her family sought refuge in Iran, where they were told to go to the back of the line at a bakery, Firooz told the AP.
Her debut single,produced on a clunky, outdated desktop with an electronic keyboard given by a supporter, Our Neighbors expresses her anguish as being born to a country shattered by war and overrun by despair:
Hear my stories and hear
Hear my sorrows, my sadness
Hear the story of my displacement and homelessness
We were lost, we were lost, lost around the world
The song has gotten more than 89,000 views on YouTube, possibly more for the novelty of a female Afghan rapper than for its production. Firooz told the AP that she lacks funding to make a better video.