Skating, like music, can be an escape and a DIY means to healing. “No ComplY” is a new compilation from Arabic- and African- region artists benefiting children in Gaza. They’ve just lost their skate park, but there’s hope – and a call for your help.
Exist Records’ full statement is included below. But the short version is this: Gaza children face real constant PTSD, worsened by ongoing violence. The skate park isn’t just an outlet; it’s a lifeline. The bad news is, the Palestinian authorities in Gaza have just demolished the existing skate park. But that makes this compilation more urgent, not less: it’s a chance to support renovating a previous park for their use, alongside classes and equipment.
Odai Masri of Exist explains to CDM:
The story is that the Palestinian authorities in Gaza demolished the space. The land is owned by the Ministry of Transportation and they just decided after 15 years of using the space by the Gaza skate team to demolish it and use it for their own projects.
The guys used to have an old park but it’s far in the north, people in the center and south struggle and cost them money they don’t have to reach it, also it needs so much renovation, but it’s the only available space so they have to accept the fact that it’s the only space they can use.
Bint Mbareh shares this chilling reminder of how vital this support can be:
With recent reports of a Palestinian child who literally died of fear because of the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, and an acknowledgment that this was not the first child whose body could not biologically carry the weight of the fear that the Israeli army inflicts on what it calls “collateral damage” (read: children who were in the way of the Israeli arms trade), it is obvious that Gazan children need an infrastructure to support their constant recovery from constant terror.
PTSD is a diagnosable category that we find often reserved for those with access to mental health services and global north mental health language. We wish Gazan kids had this, but unfortunately in addition to there being very feeble support structures for them, we also know that their lives have not afforded them the “post” in post traumatic stress. For this reason, we rely on inherited knowledge and understanding that togetherness, embodiment, play, the outdoors, and adult role models can provide them with resources they desperately need in the meantime.
This sort of compilation only works if the music is meaningful, and as we’d expect from the Exist crew, it’s a scorcher, full of heavy broken beats and heartstring-tugging instrumentals alongside some fiery rhymes, ranging from rap to deconstructed rhythms.
From Palestine to Uganda, that includes highlights like Big Murk & Abul3ees‘s poignant “Mamzoo3,” the mind-bending glitched-out rhythmic complexity of Muqata’a’s Irbak, the urgent spaced-out groove of Yao Bobby & Simon Grab’s “Fagnan,” and MC Yallah and Debmaster knocking you on the floor with “Kabitutte.” Kujo will get you head-banging with some properly labeled “raw punk”; BLKM3TA has an absolute diesel-powered rapid-fire beat on “Wood Gun.” UmKuBu & Firas Shehade open this with utterly dreamy, moving melancholy on “01011” (lamenting ironically in passing not speaking English or Arabic), and Maltash closes it out with an electrified punk anthem. And as it is advertised, you can feel that thread of punk skater resistance throughout, something I know will resonate with readers.
These are accompanied by No Comply merch, including brilliant poppy-emblazoned skateboards, painted by Tala and Bader – in a variety of stages of blossom. “This flower is a symbol of resistance and resilience for Palestinians,” Exist says, “its strong hues of red can be spotted across the Levantine. Each skateboard features the poppy at a different stage of its lifespan, starting from the bud to a fully blossomed flower.”
Poppies are in fact all over the region – as anyone who follows me on Instagram knows, since I was dizzied by the color last month and posted compulsive images of them, scattered like dots of paint across the Lebanese landscape, not so far from Gaza.
I didn’t set out for this article to hit the 75th anniversary of the Nakba – marked today by the United Nations. That action emphasized the need to deescalate and to recognize the impact on civilians and some 5.8 million UNRWA refugees. Music is an important way to return to some of the human reality for children in Gaza. There is an inarguable need there and a call for us to behave like humans and treat Gaza’s kids like humans.
And yes, as usual, you can count on musicians and DIY efforts more than you can count on governments. So you matter, whatever support (treasure or time and care) you can provide.
Full release info from Exist:
Exist Festival/Records returns with its first release of 2023 and its second compilation “No ComplY” a Gaza Skate Park, Fundraiser Compilation. The Compilation features a rare assemblage of dear friends of the label, representing the Arabian-orient and African region. The compilation pays homage to Skate Gaza, a Skate Park near the port of Gaza City, which since 2014 has cultivated a temporary passage of salvation for children escaping what is now commonly accepted as the world’s largest open-air concentration camp. The Skate Park has now evolved into a beacon of hope and an indispensable entity that has empowered children with a sense of community, striving towards a collective sense of liberation and purpose. The Skate Park provides a momentary interlude in space and time, away from an atmosphere, habitually marked by severe dehumanization and premeditated infrastructural deterioration, designed to both regress and ethnically cleanse the besieged inhabitants of Gaza.
With unsustainable rates of PTSD among the children in Gaza, the Skate Park fosters a cathartic medium for healing and mindfulness. The Skate Park successfully disrupts existing archaic gender roles by establishing a special skate team for girls whilst providing free lessons and skating equipment. With zero support from the local government, Skate Gaza’s ethos, mirrors Exist’s emblematic DIY attitude, characterized as a homegrown, self-funded project, preserving the autonomy, resilience & resistant Palestinian spirit.
The Hip-hop, pan-African rap, and deconstructed rhythm-inspired compilation will be available on a limited-edition Compact Disc (CD) and available for listening & streaming via Bandcamp, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Apple Music. The release will feature a limited press of “No Comply” T-shirts and a very limited number of “No Comply” skateboards, with a unique design for each skateboard, crafted by our very own Tala & Bader who have been the masterminds behind the project’s art direction.
All profits from the release will be distributed to the Skate Gaza team, in an effort to support and expand the Skate Parks mission. We have partnered with 7hills Skate team in Amman who will be providing skating equipment to the team in Gaza, as well as providing free lessons & skills training for the Skate Park team and children.
Exist recognizes the essential nature of raising awareness and finances for the vitalization of the project, but also recognizes the non-financial contributions that will provide indispensable support for the development of skills and the resources required to facilitate such opportunity.