“Romano Hip-hopo” (Roma hip-hop) 

Mekh man daje” is a traditional Romani song, recorded and danced by Roma young people from Warsaw’s South Praga, in which they tell of themselves and their identity. 

The idea grew from over four years of work with a group of Romani adolescents at the Fundacja Dom Kultury (Culture House Foundation). Jointly developed on basis of the participants’ interests, skills and passions, it became an opportunity for them to communicate with their peers and the rest of the world in their favorite medium. The form of the project evolved over time, having originally begun with children who are now youngsters.

After nearly three months of intensive work, our kids recorded and danced a hip-hop song “Mekh man daje”. The stunning video recording was adapted to a music video. Unprecedented in Poland.

The main authors of the success are the project participants:

Alwaro, Angela, Dawid, Edmund, Olivia, Kamil, Kewin, Niko, Ricardo, Santino, Wanda, Virginia, Zuzanna.

Alwaro

In “Mekh man daje” they sing about things of importantce to them: adventure, getting to know each other, growing up, shared identity. They acknowledge the necessity of both drawing from the multi-generational experience of their own community and interacting with majority society.

Process

“Mekh man daje” or „Let” is a traditional song sung in Romani houses. This selection was proposed by Krystyna Perła Markowska, a Romani artist, singer, activist, leader of the band „Perła i Bracia”. Perła carefully ensured that the essential identity of this song was preserved in the hip-hop arrangement.

Sound workshops were conducted by Adam Bieliński from the Academy of Sound. Aneta Woźnicka-Łada, a Zumba instructor associated with the Reggaeton vs Danchall agency, did the breakdance choreography. Leszek Wejcman from Leon Studio directed and edited the visual material.

Our participants, young Roma from Warsaw’s South Praga district, are between 12 and 16 years old. On the one hand, they have very strong inter-group ties and Roma self-identification. But on the other, in their contact with the outside world they tend to mask their origin, for fear of rejection by non-Roma peers. As they mature, they experience a noticeable weakening of bonds with their own tradition and culture. These young people, brought up on the border between the traditional Roma and metropolitan environments, are increasingly pressured to adopt new values, which while often seemingly attractive, threaten to replace those of the family home.

The „Romano Hip-hopo” project was implemented with funding from the Civic Initiatives Fund program. Thanks to this grant, the Community Center Foundation was able to organize activities for young Roma, allowing them to get to know their culture more deeply. They learned to sing in Romani, rap, create music, gifs, and memes. They made selfies and learned to breakdance. A unique music video was created, which today we have a great pleasure to present to you.

The public task „Romano Hip-hopo” was implemented by Narodowy Instytut Wolności with funds from the Civic Initiative Fund Program for the years 2014-2020.