Search Results for ‘"arab money"’

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?

2 comments October 1st, 2009

I-talian Money?

“Arab Money” may not have musical legs to stand on (remains to be seen — I think it’s still climbing up urban radio playlists), but it sure is the talk of the virtual water cooler. Most of my posts and comments on the song & its fallout have been distillations of email conversations with awesome thinkers (thx, esp to Kevin, Rachel, Marisol, Elliott, Jace).

Yesterday, Ted “Kufiya Spotting” Swedenburg started another “Arab Money” email convo, this time mostly among Middle East-studying anthropologists / poli-scientists. One of whom responded —

hard to get really worked up about this — for one, it’s just really bad hip hop. I mean, really weak. I guess the question is whether was this a deliberate attempt to draw attention by a washed-up has-been, or just something the guy was having fun with and never considered the repercussions? From what little I’ve seen from Busta Rhymes on this, it looks like the latter (and the goofiness of the video would support that reading)… but if it’s the former, a calculated outrage, should we get outraged?

to which I replied —

I think [redacted] is right to suspect Busta of the “latter” rather than calculated outrage. His response has certainly seemed to affirm such an interpretation. And, yeah, it’s a pretty weak slice of hip-hop too (though has received a good amount of uptake on urban radio). At the same time, it’s not exactly an either/or question — what Busta has put together here is quite a piece of aestheticized ignorance, the same kind of ignorance that supports Manichean wars on terror and harassment of Arabs here in the US.

this was followed by a good question/comparison, posed by Jessica Winegar

In what ways is this song similar to/different from valorizations of the Italian mafia in hip-hop?

to which, I responded with this —

Good question about comparing “Arab Money” to valorizations of the Italian mafia in hip-hop. I can think of a number of important differences, however — some aesthetic, some structural:

1) Italian-Americans long ago “became white” in this country, so the kind of “representational violence” done by a song full of cartoonish stereotypes has less power to demonize/dehumanize them than it does Arabs or Muslims at this rather fraught moment in history. (Of course, one could argue that the cartoonish stereotypes of “Arab Money” easily enough descend into absurdity, though I can’t say how common a mode of reception that actually is.)

2) Hip-hop’s valorizations of the mafia, mostly borrowed from Hollywood depictions, may similarly revel in stereotypes, but in the main they are positive, strong caricatures rather than the smorgasbord of references that Busta packs into “Arab Money,” many of which have to do with his own power to consume Middle Eastern commodities (“I got Middle East women and Middle East bread”). And sure, Busta’s point, as repeated in defensive interviews, is that — and we may or may not take offence — “Arabs” are good about working hard and saving and keeping money “in the family,” which may all be construed as positive values, but I think we can all see how this folds into some rather familiar Semitic stereotypes, while ignoring the very real poverty afflicting Arab societies.

3) The US has been waging war against Arab societies and harassing/surveilling Arab citizens. It’s been a while since we went to war with Italy and blanketly demonized Italian-Americans as mafiosos. (As an Italian-American myself, not to mention a lifelong hip-hop fan/practitioner/scholar, I’m something of a connoisseur of these Godfather/Goodfella images.)

any other opinions out there? (academic pedigree / Italian ancestry not required)

27 comments December 11th, 2008

Odes on a Popular Plugin

videyoga :: (via)

1 comment December 4th, 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?


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 —


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.


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”


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).

9 comments December 2nd, 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 ::

8 comments November 18th, 2008

Halal Beats

videyoga :: (via illuminarcy)

Sundance – Waahli aka Wyzah from Noé Sardet on Vimeo.

1 comment November 13th, 2008

Beet Street

videyoga :: (via

5 comments October 8th, 2008

Half Baked Alaska

videyoga :: kitsch-hop edition

October 3rd, 2008

Cogito Ergo Cogito Sum

videyoga :: (via ghis@/jace)

September 29th, 2008


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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