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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 26th August 2016 > PROTECT YA NECK

PROTECT YA NECK

Even in exile, Iranian rappers are still chessboxin’ with the ayatollah

@janinedigi

IT COULD HAVE happened almost anywhere in the world. Sporting sunglasses and fluorescent sneakers, a small group of men and women danced on a rooftop to “Happy,” the hit single by Pharrell Williams. They filmed the party and uploaded the video to YouTube, where it received more than a million hits. But what makes that little scene unique, and dangerous, is that it happened in Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country governed by a strict interpretation of religious laws.

PERSIAN CATS: Rappers Soroush Lashgari, left, and Mahdyar in an underground recording studio in Tehran, 2008. The hand gesture signifies 021, the city code for Tehran.
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