The Consulate General of Italy in New York hosted a thought-provoking event titled “Colors of Italy,” which delved into the rich tapestry of Italian culture, particularly through the lens of race and identity. One of the highlights of the event was a panel discussion titled “Exploring Race and Identities through Music,” moderated by Ann Morning, a professor of Sociology at NYU.
The panel brought together esteemed voices in academia and the arts to discuss the intricate relationship between music, race, and identity. Among the panelists was Clifton Boyd, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at NYU, and Silvana Patriarca, a Professor of History at Fordham University. However, the guest star of the evening was the rapper and author Amir Issaa.
Issaa, born and raised in Rome’s Torpignattara neighborhood to an Egyptian father and an Italian mother, brought a unique perspective to the discussion. His journey into hip hop culture began in the 1990s, first as a breaker and later as a writer in the Roman collective, The Riot Vandals. Over the years, he has collaborated with prominent figures in the Italian rap scene, releasing several albums that have garnered critical acclaim.
In 2005, Amir embarked on his solo career with the release of his debut album, “Uomo di Prestigio,” followed by subsequent albums such as “Vita di Prestigio,” “Paura di Nessuno,” “Amir 2.0,” and “Pronto al Peggio.” His contributions to Italian hip hop have earned him recognition, including nominations for prestigious awards like the David di Donatello and the Nastro d’Argento.
Beyond his musical endeavors, Amir has been actively involved in various social projects. He conducted a music workshop at the Casal del Marmo Juvenile Detention Center and served as a spokesperson for anti-racism campaigns with Unar. Additionally, he collaborated with organizations like Save the Children to empower youth through music workshops, particularly in marginalized communities like Torre Maura in Rome.
One of his notable initiatives is “Potere alle Parole,” a project in collaboration with RBS/Feltrinelli aimed at bringing rap music workshops to schools to combat discrimination. This initiative has been successfully implemented in schools across Italy, engaging renowned national rappers and making a meaningful impact on students.
During the panel discussion, Amir shared his personal experiences navigating issues of race and identity through music. His insights shed light on the power of art in fostering dialogue and promoting social change. By using his platform to address pressing social issues, Amir exemplifies the transformative potential of music as a tool for activism and empowerment.