Roma hip hop in Nobody

by Heval Okcuoglu in April 2022
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Current affairs Travel

I’m from Istanbul, so this story in Berlin-based magazine Nobody is close to my heart. Written by Julia Ritter and photographed by Çağan Okuyan, it focuses on one of the most brutalised neighbourhoods in Istanbul, Sulukule, renowned as Europe’s oldest settlement of Roma people. A vicious process of gentrification has swept through the city over the last decade, and Çağan’s photography focuses on the people who have been swept aside by the changes.


The story’s main characters are local rappers Tahribad-ı İsyan (Destruction of Rebellion), three Romani youngsters who met when their homes were destroyed under the guise of a so-called “innovative urban regeneration project,” only to be replaced by luxury residences. Their music is a pure creative outburst, with poignant lyrics full of rage and despair, and led by the rappers through the streets they call home, the photo story shows where that urgent power comes from. I loved discovering this story about young people who have managed to own their pain and struggle, transforming it into a form of support and solidarity that lights up the Roma community.

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