Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Arab Money": Racist Tripe Or Bangin' Track?!?

[Editor's Note: Sure, this is trivial stuff. Play along anyway.]

While I love the Ron Browz beat, the dumb dance, and can even tolerate the vocoder/auto-tune hook, something about Busta Rhymes' "Arab Money" makes me cringe everytime I hear it.

Yeah, I know Busta Buss says the song pays homage to the extravagant oil sheik lifestyle by drawing correlations to the time-honored African American tradition of "flossin'". But still, "ARAB MONEY"? I'm no expert on ethnic slurs, but I doubt many folks of Middle Eastern descent like being referred to as "ARABS". That would sorta be like calling an Asian person "ORIENTAL", or a black person a "REPUBLICAN".

I'm just sayin'.

Apparently, I ain't the only one a bit squeamish about it.
Busta Rhymes‘ new song “Arab Money” continues to be a lightning rod for controversy, with one UK DJ being suspended after playing the Quran-sampling track on the radio. Steve “Smooth” Sutherland was suspended from his popular show after the song’s broadcast resulted complaints from listeners.

In the song’s chorus, the first chapter of the Quran is sung and sampled, which is against strict Arab law dictating that singing a Quran verse in combination with music is prohibited. “I really only respect the Arab culture,” Rhymes said in a recent interview. “I ain’t really trying to pay no attention to, ya know, these little people in political positions and executive positions that ain’t Arab culture oriented people because a lot of the times, what are you really showing all of this concern for?”
Not to be outdone, an Iraqi MC (go figure) seized the opportunity to get some free pub for his upcoming album publicly flog Busta as well.
While hip-hop junkies and partygoers are currently bopping to Busta Rhymes and Ron Browz's new hit single, "Arab Money," one fan feels the song is nothing to dance to. Iraqi MC, the Narcicyst, is outraged by the lyrics and claims the track to be racist and degrading to his culture and the Arabic community. "Once again, Arabs are represented as these arm flailing, oil rich, loft having, private jet taking, camel toe lady bangin', desert camel riding, bearded sand men," said the Narcicyst, who deemed it a bigger disappointment that the song came from the hip-hop community.

Disturbed by the song’s message, Narcicyst took a break from his current project, a feature film he was shooting in Dubai, UAE, to record a response track entitled "The Real Arab Money." According to the rapper, entertainment companies are being suspended for playing Busta’s version in the UK and most citizens have publicly announced they are heavily offended by it. The Narcicyst says he admires Busta Rhymes’s talents as an artist and in no way will stop being a loyal fan to him, but wants the MC to acknowledge this time he may have gone too far.
Busta has since apologized to anyone insulted by the track, and actually released an updated version of the song. Since the two (yeah, that's all that's left after the merger, two) hip-hop stations on Sirius-XM play this song incessantly (so much for playlist-free music, huh), I couldn't help but notice that the remix (which features about 20 rappers) has a different hook altogether.

So, we go from "ARAB" to "AHHHH-Rab" and the most offensive portion of the song (the original hook featured a passage from the Quran) has been removed and replaced with some random jibberish. And as much as I agree with the change, part of me wonders if censoring music on this level is such a good idea.

[Editor's Note: I know Busta probably wasn't too happy about being outted for using HGH a few years back, but getting on the N.O.R.E. diet and completely letting yourself go isn't the best idea either. Dude has Arab Tummy.]

This isn't the first time it's happened to a rap song. You probably all remember Jadakiss' "stack chips like Hebrews" line being instantly removed from "All About The Benjamins". Kanye West's "leave your a$$ for a white girl" line in "GoldDigger" was bleeped. When Professor Griff made some derogatory comments about Jews, Public Enemy was forced to throw him under the bus and Chuck D had to take a tour of the Holocaust Museum for PR purposes. But isn't this a slippery slope?[1]

Ignant as Busta's original hook was, it was his artistic vision. Bowing down in the name of censorship seems like an affront to his right to freedom of speech, despite how stoopid that speech might be.

Question: Should Busta have changed the "Arab Money" hook? Do you feel a bit conflicted about this song too or does it not bother you? Had Eminem come out with a song called "JiggaBoo Dollaz" would you be offended?

Busta Rhymes’ Controversial “Arab Money” Gets DJ Suspended [Rolling Stone]

Iraqi MC Offended by Busta Rhymes’ “Arab Money [CelebCafe]

[1] Never mind the fact that no rapper has ever apologized to black women for all the "B's and H's" over the years. I was just listening to Ludacris' "Area Codes" on Sirius this morning and wondering how he got away with that nonsense scot-free.

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