Archive of posts tagged with "middleeast"

June 30th, 2010

If I Had a Tumblr






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June 4th, 2010

Terrorists Party on Chatroulette and Messing with People

This video mostly speaks for itself, and speaks volumes, but here are a couple key items:

  • The weapons are not real! We don’t support violence. Also fake picture.
  • Song used: Punjabi MC – “Jogi

The range of reactions are absolutely precious. Does this mean the terrorists win?

h/t ebog

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April 16th, 2010

big gyptian (riddim meth0d repost)

[Ok, here’s another oldie-but-goodie from the Riddim Meth0d vaults. Plenty of readers are no doubt familiar with this post/mashup, especially since I’ve revisited the issue. In the time since I wrote it (almost 5 years ago!), I’ve also had the strange fortune of submitting a brief report — about the significance of “Big Pimpin” to Jay’s and Timbo’s respective oeuvres — to the lawyers working for the heirs to Baligh Hamdi’s copyrights. (For the record, while I don’t want to contribute to bad legal precedent, I’m generally ok with taking some of the money that explodes outward as rich people sue rich people, as long as I get to tell the truth as I see/hear it. Also, this likely won’t go to trial.) This example also finds its way into a chapter I’m contributing to a forthcoming book on Pop-Culture Tools for the Music Classroom. Finally, I want to thank the lovely humanitarians at archive.org for preserving the post and — more importantly — the comments on it. I’m happy & relieved to recover the comment thread from the initial RM post, which I will paste in at the bottom of this re-post. It’s hard to lose conversations to the e-ther, even little ones. For the record, this was initially published on 19 September 2005.]

riffing off pace’s east-meets-west blend and continuing my experiments with mashes of musically-related songs, i offer up an orientalist oddity: jay z’s “big pimpin’,” as produced by timbaland, mixed with abdel-halim hafez’s “khosara,” the song that provided timbo with the inspiration for the slinky, flute-propelled loop that undergirds j-hova’s jam.

wayne&wax, “big gyptian” (j-hova v. abdel-halim hafez)

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although there was some controversy about the similarity between “pimpin'” and “khosara” (including talk of a lawsuit), timbaland apparently escaped penalty, at least at present, because in this case he replayed – i.e., re-recorded – the two-bar section (rather than digitally sampling it), and the sense appears to be that the underlying composition was not original and/or substantial enough to be infringed in this case. you will hear in the four-bars that begin my mashup that timbaland’s beat bears a very strong resemblance to the original. [note from 2010: i have since changed my opinion on the question of whether this features a sample or not, based on irrefutable evidence.]

this is not an unambiguous case. because the music in question is a short loop and it is re-recorded rather than sampled, it seems reasonable for timbo to get off the hook. of course, not only is the musical reference a clearly recognizable one, the two-bar phrase in question is an important part of the original, serving as an intro and as a recurring riff (notably, returning after the vocal section). at the same time, the fact that, according to this article, label owner magdi el-amroussi would have denied timbo the ability to use this fragment – “Because he’s changed the composition” – also seems to argue for timbaland’s right to do it. despite that timbo and jay used the flute loop to craft a somewhat crass (if catchy) song about pimpin’, the world would be worse off with such arbitrary, authoritarian restrictions on derivative works, whether the so-called owner of the copyright is disney or a seemingly stodgy label owner.

what i like about this mash, as with the “code of the beats” experiment, is that one gets to hear more of the original, which is great in its own right, and thus one understands the sonic inspiration at work here. at the same time, hearing the source alongside the “derivative” track offers new ways of hearing the originals. in this case, one gets to hear how timbo’s interpretation changes the original: rather than a recurring motif, the flute loop now undergirds the entire composition, moving its emphasis toward rhythmic repetition and bass frequencies. similarly, rather than supporting some southern-fried, slap-a-bitch rap, timbaland’s breezy beat, enhanced by additional winds and strings, instead accompanies the mournful, melismatic singing of abdel-halim hafez, the “king of arabic music.”

although timbo’s beat has always had me open, i gotta admit that jay’s lyrics (and those of his cohorts) tend to put me off. frankly, they make me cringe. as much as i can see the attraction of expanding the pimp-metaphor (as with the hustler, badman, etc.) and of playing the role – at bottom, it is a position of power, par excellence perhaps – i just can’t get with the misogyny when it comes down to it. similar to oliver, i have a hard time recuperating exploitation. so, rather than playing any of the verses, or even the chorus, what i have done here is to “dub in” a few of the phrases in jay’s verse that seemed more “positive” or at least could be interpreted that way. “love ‘em” (without the “leave ‘em”) seems about as good as it gets, though i found some others, too.

after putting the phrases together, i was struck that the line “take ‘em out the hood, keep ‘em lookin’ good” suggests quite another set of meanings when heard in the context of egyptian music: one can either hear jay-z critiquing conservative islam’s call for women to wear veils – recalling vybz kartel’s “you nuh haffi hide your face like bin laden gal” – or one can hear him assailing the american-style torture interrogation techniques so symbolized by hooded abu ghraib prisoners.

and despite its appearance before 9/11, “big pimpin'” does tap into our historical moment nonetheless, sitting alongside a host of other orientalist beats in hip-hop, dancehall, and various electronic genres. the resonance of middle eastern music in the world’s (urban, popular) musics has been building for some time, reflecting centuries of history of interaction, not to mention a contemporary and increasingly visible and audible cultural presence in the US.

even so, representations of middle-easterners and islam in the US (and, say, UK) remain as stereotyped and distorted as the “eastern” musical figures in contemporary popular music. the article in al-ahram notes that the hip-hop press completely conflated various asian/orientalist signifiers when trying to describe the egyptian sound of “big pimpin'”:

The identity of the composer of the song, though, has been lost within the crazy machinations of the hip-hop world. A review of the song on MTV describes it as “Bollywood-wigged NOLA bounce stutter-stepping,” ignoring its Egyptian roots. Another review describes the beat as featuring “Z droppin big willie rhymes over a swaying, South-Seas flavoured groove that’s a happy musical marriage of Brooklyn and Bali.”

so it is also my hope that a mashup of this sort can serve to bring a little more awareness to the actual music whose ghosts and caricatures today haunt mainstream radio and the global underground alike. the hafez original could serve as a window into a wonderful world of truly amazing music, which, really, should only further justify the existence of timbaland’s homage. (let’s face it: they’re not exactly competing in the same market; one’s existence does not diminish the other – on the contrary, they enrich each other’s resonance.)

i recommend tracking down the original recording of “khosara” – never mind various live versions – and giving the song a listen. it certainly holds up on its own. (i’m sayin’, how do you think it came into timbaland’s hands?) in fact, given that the infringement suit seems like a non-issue, and considering that so many of us really dig the same sounds that inspired timbo and jay-z, it would be dandy if hafez found new listeners by virtue of timbo “putting him on.” you can find one version of “khosara” on CD here (and listen to a real-audio file of the whole thing), and you can hear much, much more from him here. enchanting stuff, no doubt. listen to this alongside some um kulthum, and you’ll get a good sense of mid-20th century egyptian popular music.

a word on technique: i have pitched the hafez recording up slightly in order to match the timbo version (since the latter had the more compelling, bumping center, which i would rather not distort). when the hafez makes harmonic changes, however, i shift the timbaland up in pitch to match it (which, yeah, sometimes sounds a little weird – but this is all kind of weird to begin with, no?). i have simply replayed the first vocal section of the hafez after the jay-z-quoting dubby section in order to give the track’s form a kind of roundness. because the hafez original is substantially longer than i imagine most people’s attention spans are, i decided to excise the rest of it. (when i tried out an earlier mix of these at a boston-based college-bar, it was clear that heads were not ready. it nearly caused a riot on dance floor, and not in a good way. but i insisted on making it through at least one round of hafez’s singing before bringing back the jay-z. the manager thought i had lost it. i quit that gig shortly thereafter. when i played the same sequence at beat research, where there also happened to be some egyptians in the house, people went bananas for it.)

one final note: i’ve added some additional, locally-inflected percussion here. having added this mash into my set at the boston bounce party a couple weeks ago, i already had the two tracks arranged with some bounce-y beats underneath (i.e., all the percussion that enters after the first eight bars). i decided to leave the beats in because they give the track some nice extra drive (if obscuring some of the halftime feel of the jay-z) and because i’ve been enjoying this odd beantown groove lately. “big pimpin'” and “khosara,” both with tempos in the mid-130s, were well suited to a boston bounce refix. it’s kind of a funny tempo, i think – unsettling with its constant question, “too fast or too slow?” – but between grime, garage, b-more, techno, soca, electro, and the occasional uptempo hip-hop or dancehall oddity, among others, beats in the 130-140 bpm range seem all the rage of late. at any rate, what’s another node in the network? shit’s messy enough to begin with. i think that’s why it sounds so good.

in case you missed it at the top:
wayne&wax, “big gyptian” (j-hova v. abdel-halim hafez)

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February 18th, 2010

That Which Cannot Be Bought Or Sold Or Destroyed

I was excited to find in my inbox today a link to a brand new LP by one of my favorite artists from whom I hadn’t heard much in a while: the mighty Mutamassik! It’s called That Which Death Cannot Destroy and the liner notes very plainly state that it “cannot be bought or sold.” My man Brian Coleman framed it as follows:

I guess she’s just completely fed-up with the music industry so doesn’t even bother trying to sell stuff, just offers it out and lets the karmic wheel spin. So definitely pass the word along to anyone and everyone you know who would be down with what she’s doing – personally I think it’s amazing stuff.

I do too, and I’m happy to help with the karmaloop. Consider the word passed along; the link too

      >> Mutamassik, That Which Death Cannot Destroy

Before the sounds of the Middle East became de rigueur sampling materials for hip-hop, Mutamassik was exploring ways of fusing various sounds and styles into a compelling, challenging whole, shards a-flying all the while. It’s no surprise that she and /Rupture got together for some un?(w)holy matrimony.

Let’s celebrate Mutamassik’s ongoing industry and willingness to share by enjoying and spreading her music, “motivated by funk and apocalypse” (click to enlarge) —


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October 1st, 2009

Arab Face, Second As Farce

Thx to the ever-vigilant Ted Swedenburg for bringing to my attn the latest episode in the surreal and surprisingly sustained saga of “Arab Money” (click the non-HD version to stay here) —

So there you have it, folks — an Arab(-American?) thug unironically, but awkwardly, singing Busta’s hook. Pretty much exactly how Bus-a-bus imagined it, no doubt. Virtual reality. Or something.

The big question, for my I-talian Money, is whether it could ever best this monstrosity when it comes to hyperreal arabesque hip-hop imperialism?

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March 5th, 2009

Music Unites Us, Gets Under Our Skins

I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce this —

At a time when the arts community at Brandeis is feeling rightly beleaguered, it brings me no little satisfaction to know that we will be putting on a rather art-ful residency later this month, sponsoring the US premiere of such an exciting, provocative, and relevant group as Nettle. It brings added satisfaction that we’ve been able to pull this off at all, especially since we thought we had to call it off back in October. We have some dedicated fundraisers and generous donors to thank for that.

For those who don’t know, Nettle is the brainchild of Jace Clayton (aka DJ /Rupture), someone who is no stranger to readers of this blog. He started the group when living as an ex-pat in Barcelona along with several other ex-pats (from Scotland & Morocco), all of them speaking second or third languages in order to converse with each other. There’s a lot to like about the group, starting with their unique sound but branching out into the myriad questions their collaboration seems to pose about cultural & social life in our contemporary, globalized cities.

Jace has quite a way with words, though, so I’ll let him tell you more himself (via) —

Nettle originated in my fascination with the concept of an album heavily influenced by Middle Eastern ideas, but not necessarily at the audible level. I was unsatisfied with the narrative poles of electronic music — loop-based dance pieces or abstract/ambient pieces without storytelling force. A suite of rigorous modal improvisation in Arabic music called taqasims offered the solution: I knew and loved their internal play between free-flowing improv and strict technical guidelines. I spent a year or two translating these ideas into pieces for samplers and laptop. Two albums later I still wasn’t satisfied: one-way cultural flows aren’t good enough. I wanted community, two-way translations, the squeal of a feedback loop.

Earlier this year I was commissioned by a British arts council to transform Nettle into a proper live ensemble. Violin, oud, percussion, electronics, realtime sampling. I’d been involved in Barcelona’s Moroccan music community for a while, but the Nettle project has upped the intensity of collaboration. A few days ago, Nettle’s violin and oud player, Abdelaziz Hak, brought up taqasims to explain his response to a beat I’d prepared for him.

I broke into a silly grin.

This is working. We’re starting to get under each other’s skin.

When I met Judy Eissenberg last year and she told me about the MusicUnitesUS program & how she was inspired to start it in the wake of 9/11 as a way of embracing and exploring cultural difference, I almost immediately thought of Nettle.

Whereas MUUS residencies in the past have offered an opportunity for intercultural exchange, bringing representatives of some ‘non-Western’ society to share their traditions with the Brandeis community, what is wonderful about Nettle is that the group already embodies that process of encounter and exchange. What especially attracts me to the group’s sound and spirit is their eschewal of easy fusion cliches, choosing instead to embrace moments where they “get under each other’s skin,” as Jace puts it.

Electronic beats rumbling beneath folk and pop idioms from North Africa and avant-garde cello, Nettle represents the sound of New Spain, but they also, to my ears anyhow, offer pregnant musical metaphors for our ‘Nu World,’ to put a zeitgeisty spin on it: they seem to revel in the cultural ruptures — and spaces — created by today’s rapid circulation of people and media, in which some things have an easier time crossing borders than others. (On that point, INSHALLAH that Abdel & Khalid don’t get tripped up by customs agents, even in the age of Obama.)

I’m further delighted to report that Nettle will be joined by their occasional percussionist (aka Filastine!) and visual artist Daniel Perlin (aka DJ N-RON!) who will be providing realtime visual accompaniment. It’s gonna be quite a show.

If you’re in the Boston area (or not!), you’re welcome to attend any of the on-campus events, which, aside from the concert Saturday night, are all free and open to the public. I expect tickets for the concert to go quickly, so you may want to snap some up ASAP. I’ll be giving a brief talk in the Rose Art Museum directly prior to the concert, exploring the ways music expresses selfhood and neighborhood in our globalized, if perhaps not quite (yet?) cosmopolitan, cities.

Hope you can join us!

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December 5th, 2008

Recent Kufiya Spotting @ the Enormous Room

how long have you had that scarf?

i dunno. two months?

where’d you get it?

at a second-hand shop in brooklyn.

do you know what it is?

is it israeli?

it’s middle eastern right?

all the high school kids in brooklyn wear em.

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December 2nd, 2008

Iron Chic


videyogas ::

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December 2nd, 2008

A3rab Money Refix?


would you prefer to listen while looking at an img of what may or may not be a swank Dubai livingroom?

You may have heard — or at least heard about — the above, a remix of Busta’s infamous “Arab Money,” featuring Lil Wayne, Akon, Diddy, Swizz Beatz, T-Pain, & of course, Ron Browz. There are some significant, remarkable differences between this version and the original, leading me to wonder — via Marisol LeBron, who alerted me to the diffs — whether this is as much a “refix” as a remix.

As Marisol noted, the offensive / willfully ignant pronunciation, “A-rab,” has been replaced — at least in the chorus (Weezy brings out the hard A at the end of his verse) — by a more accurate “A3rab” (if slightly caricatured with an extra roll of the r). Moreover, you might notice that Ron Browz’s faux-Arabic hook has been upgraded from pure gibberish to quasi-Arabic, employing syllabic strings that at least resemble certain Arabic words (e.g., “hamdulilla,” “bismillah” [pronounced “bishmillah”]).

Marisol wonders (via email) “whether Busta is responding to pressure from the Arab community or whether someone just corrected him and told him that A-rab is typically considered derogatory.” I’m quite curious myself. Maybe Diddly will vlog it?

If someone gets a chance to ask Busta about it, could they also find out why he thanks Spielberg-Lucas in the intro for “directing this movie”? I didn’t catch any references to Tatooine, d’you?

Update!

Marisol, who sez she’ll be posting about this tomorrow, writes —

There is totally arabic in the song BISMILLAH AL-RAHMAN AL-RAHEEM which is at the beginning of every verse. The phrase signifies “in the name of Allah, the most gracious, most merciful” it is the first verse of almost every chapter of the Qur’an and is typically associated with daily prayers. A few of the artists are Muslim and would know the significance of the phrase, so why include it in a song about stacking chips and getting ass? It’s kinda crazy! I’m actually posting on it tomorrow.

Interestingly, when I asked some of my Arabic fluent students about the song, they disagreed that it was actual Arabic, though they also agreed that the conflation between “Arab” and “Muslim” in the song is an unfortunate and all-too-typical one —

Lisa:

There may be some words in the “Arabic verse” that might come from Arabic, but its definitely not Arabic. i’d say they recite words that are directly taken from Islam (or Christianity, for the Arabic speaking Christians) like hamdulilla – thank god, or bismillah-(pronounced bishmililah in the song) in the name of god. So i’d say these words might be taken from Arabic, but they r not pronounced in an Arabic accent… it sounds much more like something of indian music to me.

Noam:

I join what Lisa wrote, and I’ll just add the word ignorance….because the “Arabic” (dangerous, terrorist) stereotype goes together with Islam, but the truth is, and most people are not aware of the fact that most Muslims in the world are NOT EVEN ARABS! and thanks to Busta now, no one will go search and find this out so the Muslim Arab stereotype is here to stay along with “Arab Money”

Mohammad:

i definitely agree with you guys. its a very sad example of how brainwashed a lot of artists are by the media, and then brainwash the people. they can’t really tell the different between Muslims vs Muslim Arabs vs Christian Arabs Muslims etc.. so we hear the terms “hamdulila’ ‘bismila’ ‘habibi’ i have to say that i have met a lot of people that associated me with this words.. so its very common stereotype..

And it’s important to remember, as Marisol notes, that guys like Busta, Akon, etc., are well acquainted with various Arabic words and phrases for various reasons: whether from their own participation in or acquaintance with (African-)American Islam (or Senegalese Islam in Akon’s case) — notably a lot of the comments on the YouTube videos debate which of these artists is actually Muslim — or the longstanding colloquial use among African-Americans of greetings like “salaam alaikum” (which Busta throws into the mix here).

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November 18th, 2008

Delayed Linkdump #2429

Changed my wordpress password over the weekend, which threw off my semi-automatic delicious blogging (aka, linkthink). So here’s a semi-manual collection of yesterday’s links —

  • LRB · Slavoj Žižek: Use Your Illusions
    looks like zizek caught the hope (kinda); here is a sneeze: “Nothing was decided with Obama’s victory, but it widens our freedom and thereby the scope of our decisions. No matter what happens, it will remain a sign of hope in our otherwise dark times, a sign that the last word does not belong to realistic cynics, from the left or the right.”
  • McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Noted Post-Marxist Sociologist, Philosopher, and Cultural Critic Slavoj Žižek Welcomes You to the Gym.

    ‘ Exercise allows us to engage in these repetitive motions without having to question why. The superego asks the id, “What are you doing? Don’t make me look stupid,” and then the ego and id respond, “Go to bed, old man. I am working out like Olivia Newton-John!” ‘

  • Soul Jazz Records — Dancehall – Album — The Rise Of Jamaican Dancehall Culture

    this looks great, as does the beth lesser book it accompanies — can’t wait to page through that with these chunes banging in the background

  • hawgblawg: kufiya note #7078 (plus turban and hijab chic)

    ted swedenburg stays on his kufiya-spotting grind, here noting a profusion of related fashion trends, including the rise/return of the turban, hijab, and pashmina

  • Twankle & Glisten: Slap

    kid slizzard rounds up a few bmore/youtube edits :: these are really quite entertaining, definitely some next level remixing :: i like what he sez — “these straight-chop video interpretations of Baltimore club tracks are the only way I’ve seen an unadulterated sample being ..uh.. sampled. Such great rap synthesthesia …” :: and, oh yeah, that chappelle shit is hilarious

  • The Elephants Child: When theres Arab Money……

    rachel runs down some riffs around “arab money,” from the narcicyst’s biting response to busta’s own defense (i hate that talk of different “cultures” — isn’t the point that this all falls under global capitalism?!), to an ‘unrelated’ video featuring “al qaeda jada”?!?! weirdnessesesses

  • MUSIC WORLD – BUCHAMAN – Part 1 of 5 – VBS.TV

    VBS.TV does it again, this time with a fascinating look at a dancehall crew in uganda, dabbling in local governance?!

  • T-Pain and the Rise of the Singing Robots – AOL Music Canada

    nice lil piece on the rise of autotune as the new reverb, w/ a kicker quotation from sñr /rupture: ‘But in Rupture’s view, autotuning is a means of augmenting, not stealing soul. “There’s something very humanizing about Auto-Tune. I see it as a duet between the electronics and the personal. It’s not like it’s making a voice sound computer-y, it’s a third, more interesting cyborg possibility—a reconciliation with technology. It’s a duet. I live in a world saturated by electronics and we’re finding a way to make that sing.” ‘

videyoga ::

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October 20th, 2008

Make It Bahrain

Just in case ppl haven’t seen it yet, I wouldn’t want something so remarkable to get lost in the comments. Thanks to Kevin “Todomundo” Driscoll for the link and, yep, I’ve already put Ted “Kufiyah-Spotting” Swedenburg on the case —

Can anyone tell me, though, how Al-Jazeera is [being used in?] framing this clip? I only know a handful of curses in Arabic.

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Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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