I brought up the point with him that many of the artists say "Arab Money" rather than the original "A-rab Money." (although as Wayne pointed out Wayne keeps the hard A towards the end). I wondered whether pressure from the Arab community was the cause of the change. I also wonder whether someone might have told Busta that A-rab is a derogatory term and not the correct pronunciation of Arab.
Wayne had asked in an E-mail whether there was actual Arabic being used on the hook tool to which I responded:
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.
To my untrained ear it definitely sounded like the common phrase uttered in religious contexts, but I was a little off. Wayne asked some of his students who are fluent in Arabic whether it was actual Arabic and they disagreed saying that there were words that might come from Arabic but were mispronounced or out of context. They had an interesting take about the way that "Arab" and "Muslim" are conflated in the song which I really appreciated.
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).
I did want to point out some of the problematic ways that some of the artists evoke Orientalist imagery and women in subservient roles. Just a few quick examples...
T-Pain saying "I drop money bombs like the Taliban"
Swizz saying "she call me her habibi while she feeling me linguine/left right left right get that A-rab dance poppin' right"
Akon saying "I got that Arab money/ waking up to my concubines and my money"
I also find it fascinating that Dubai is becoming emblematic of the Arab world in hip-hop discourse (in the remix Diddy talks about buying Dubai and swimming with sharks, although I didn't quite understand the connection and Busta talks about Dubai and the UAE). I've had a few discussions with Michael Ralph about the song and he says that its curious that Dubai becomes the symbol since Dubai is very much a space predicated on the idea of fantasy, globalization, and neoliberalism. I wonder how that discourse is enabled by and in response to rhetoric about the Arab world being associated with danger and terrorism as Noam alluded to in his response above.
Please check out Wayne's whole post at wayneandwax.com