(PC: The National)
The Arab Spring reached Iraq at a turbulent time, shortly after the formal withdrawal of occupying American troops and right before the initial rise of ISIS/ISIL. Iraqi pop culture during and since that period has been just as turbulent, morphing over and over again as it reflects the new causes, struggles, and ideas of the Iraq's overwhelmingly young population. Recent developments in Iraqi pop culture have grown out of protests against widespread corruption and unemployment.
Contemporary hip-hop in Iraq is a diverse scene. Like many other Middle Eastern scenes, it includes both native and diasporic artists, and often focuses on the unique political and social struggles of Iraq. However, without a singular event or regime to align themselves for or against, Iraqi rap deals with a wide range of topics from light-hearted sociality, to criticism of local government, and even protest against Iraq's occupation by foreign powers. There is even a growing religious rap movement, which seeks to use hip-hop to appeal to young worshippers.
Graffiti and street art in Iraq has slowly grown in presence and international notoriety over the course of the 21st centuiry. A current center of street art activity and display is Tarhir Square, where walls have been covered with both hopeful and critical images as part of ongoing protests.
(PC: The Guardian)
Since 2007, Baghdad and other Iraqi cities have been criss-crossed with concrete barriers intended to compartmentalize neighborhoods and limit the potential for attacks against US troops and government security forces. One unique form of street art co-opts these barriers as canvases for imagined landscapes, political messaging, and memorials.