|Amkoullel on stage with his newest fans/back-up dancers; Photo by Ross Kaufman|
Earlier today, over a thousand high school students filed into the opera house for a morning dose of North African and Middle Eastern hip-hop. The show was a school-time performance of Mic Check, organized by the BAM Education department. Most of the teens hadn't heard of Amkoullel, Deeb, El Général, or Shadia Mansour until this week, but you would have thought them lifetime fans. The energy was palpable, and the rappers had them chanting along in Arabic and Bambara, dancing in (and on) their seats, in the aisles, and eventually on stage. All before noon.