Punk has been a platform for protest for decades, and with the current political climate punk is experiencing a new renaissance. Haram is one of those bands that is leading the new wave of tolerant punk.
With their debut full-length album بس ربحت, خسرت, “When You Have Won, You Have Lost,” Haram takes on what it means to be a refugee in the United States.
Nadar Habibi is the frontman for Haram and through his lyrics documents the discrimination he has faced as an Arab-American.
Habibi’s parents fled the Lebanese Civil War and he was born in New York. After 9/11, Habibi experienced a heightened sense of discrimination.
“I remember I was the first one pulled out of class and the principal was there,” Nader recounts. “I sat down and the D.A.R.E. officer comes up to me. ‘Where is your dad? Where is your mom right now? What do they do? Have they been abroad lately?'”
This discrimination did not end when Habibi was young. When Haram was touring, the Joint Terrorism Task Force interviewed Habibi because of the band’s imagery.
‘Where is your dad? Where is your mom right now? What do they do? Have they been abroad lately?’
“The fact that this happened the day . . . we were leaving for a tour, seemed to me to mean that they were conscious of what was happening with us at that moment and chose that time to intervene,” said Haram drummer James Stuart. “Just the fact that it was in Arabic was enough to arouse their suspicion that Nader was doing something wrong, which he’s not. They didn’t even bother to translate the music to know that it was anti-extremist and secular and all this stuff. They just showed up at his house instead.”
بس ربحت, خسرت, “When You Have Won, You Have Lost” is a scathing reflection of Habibi’s struggles with his identity and the prejudice around him.
Sam Lefebvre, a writer for the music blog Pitchfork, wrote about how Haram blends influences to give off a terrifying vibe.
Habibi “makes the process sound like flensing flesh from one’s own bone,” Lefebvre said, “then grafting it elsewhere on the body — visceral transformation via self-discovery.”
Just the fact that it was in Arabic was enough to arouse their suspicion that Nader was doing something wrong, which he’s not.
Haram brings a unique perspective when it comes to being an Arab-American. Their music is a criticism of the society we live in, while empowering their varied identities.