When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

A Female Voice Busts Into 'Man's World' Of Moroccan Rap

With edgy lyrics and an attitude that's too legit to quit, rapper Houda Abouz — aka Khtek — is pushing against the grain and gaining a substantial following.

Houda Abouz goes by the name Khtek, meaning 'your sister'
Houda Abouz goes by the name Khtek, meaning "your sister"
Ahmed Eljechtimi

RABAT — In a rap scene dominated my men, women's voices are starting to make waves in Morocco.

Houda Abouz, a 24-year-old who majors in film studies at a university in the northern city of Tetouan, has long been fascinated by hip-hop. Encouraged by friends, she finally decided to picked up a mic, and from there began to perform.

In January she appeared in Hors Série, a song in which she performed alongside three big male rap stars in Morocco: Elgrande Toto, Don Bigg and Draganov. The video has been viewed around 16 million times on YouTube — a reflection of the popularity the genre enjoys across the north African kingdom — and its success encouraged Abouz to go it alone.

She followed up in February with her debut single KickOff, in which she rails against a society she says does not offer women equal opportunities.

"I am a self-made artist and I write my own lyrics, speaking my mind," she told Reuters in an interview in the capital Rabat.

"Rap is my passion and my defense mechanism in a patriarchal society," added Abouz, who goes by the name Khtek, meaning "your sister."

Her lyrics, delivered in Moroccan Arabic dialect with French or English phrases thrown in, are sometimes explicit. "Badass, I survived war, drugs, craziness and love," she sings in KickOff. "Many things did not work out because we are ladies in the country of the dick."

In recent months, the country's rap scene has become embroiled in politics after an artist named Gnawi was sentenced to a year in prison for insulting the police in a video.

Abouz is not the only woman making a mark in the male-dominated Moroccan rap world. Another female hip-hop star, Manal, had a hit song Slay that was viewed 44 million times on YouTube. Abouz, who describes herself as a feminist and supporter of LGBT rights, said she was influenced by the pro-democracy protests that shook Morocco in 2011 during the Arab spring.

However, she said her music did not serve a political agenda but gave "a taste of the street and of deep Morocco." Men's prevalence in the world of rap reflected Morocco's conservative society, she said, but her work tries to seize back the narrative for women.

"I write better than you, though you think I'm just a girl," she sings in KickOff.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A "Third Rome": How The Myth of Russian Supremacism Fuels Putin's War

Tracing the early roots of the concept of the "Russian world" that sees the Russian state as eternal and impervious to change. Its primary objective is the establishment of a robust national state, a realm of expansionism where autocracy is the only form of governance possible.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives a gala reception at the Grand Kremlin Palace

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives a gala reception at the Grand Kremlin Palace

Alexei Nikolsky/TASS/ZUMA
Vazhnyye Istorii


Looking back at the start of the 16th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow had emerged victorious over its Orthodox rivals, including principalities such as Tver and the Novgorod Republic. At the time, a significant portion of the eastern Slavic lands was under Catholic Lithuania's control.

So, how did Moscow rise to prominence?

On the surface, Moscow appeared to fill the void left by the Mongolian Golden Horde. While Moscow had previously collected tributes from other principalities, it now retained these resources for itself. There was an inclination for Muscovy to expand further eastward, assimilating fragments of the Genghisid empire. However, aligning the descendants of ancient Rus’ with the heirs of Genghis Khan would necessitate a fundamental shift in the state's identity. This was particularly complex due to the prevalent ideology built around religion, with the Tatar khans, unlike the Russian princes, adhering to Islam.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In the early 16th century, a Pskov monk named Philotheus introduced a new idea: that Moscow represented the "third Rome."

According to Philotheus, the first Rome had succumbed to Latin heresy (Catholicism), and the second, Constantinople, had fallen to Turkish conquest. He believed Moscow was now the capital of the only Orthodox state remaining in the world. Philotheus presented his worldview to Grand Duke Vasily III, advocating for the unification of all Christian kingdoms into one.

The descendants of ancient Rus’ sought to trace their lineage back to Prus, the legendary brother of the first Roman emperor Augustus Octavian, establishing a link between Russia and the first Rome. Even though historical evidence doesn't support these claims, Ivan IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible, proudly asserted his connection to Augustus Octavian. He took the concept of the third Rome very seriously and became the first Russian ruler to take on the title of the tsar.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest