Entertainment / Opinion

We Makin’ Arab Money … Tougher Than Nigerian Hair … Creative Or Insensitive?

by Nelima

My youngest brother who is a Dj told me something interesting this morning. He was doing his regular gig on Sunday and was about to play the song ‘Arab Money’ by Busta when his friend asked him not to play the song as it may be offensive to the culture of the many Somali’s in the club. For those of you who don’t know the song here are some of the lyrics (Not too sure about the Arabic ones, each website had a different version) …

Shalai Lai Lai Halilili Hai Lo!
Hi Li Ba Lai Hey Hi Li Bai Lo!
We gettin’ Arab money!
We gettin’ Arab money!
Ha La Shiki Hai Lili Ba La!
Milli Ai Lai Shi Lili Ba La!
We gettin’ Arab money!
We gettin’ Arab money!

[Verse 1: Busta Rhymes]
Now, there ain’t no way that you could kill the beast dead
I got Middle East women and Middle East bread
I got oil well money in the desert playing golf
Dolce shorts, dashiki with a Louie Scarf
Chest cold, diamonds make a nigga wanna cough
In Dubai, 20 million on the villa loft
And then I step up in the club and then these other niggas mad as shit
The way I make the people wanna sing the hook in Arabic!

This brought to mind another conversation. A Nigerian Lil’ Wayne fan took offense with his lyrics in club banger ‘A Milli’ . Lil’ Wayne was voted 2008 Lyricist of the Year by BET. My friend said she jams to the song, but never says the phrase referencing Nigerian Hair. Here are some lyrics to that song.

Ima Millionaire,
Im a Young Money Millie in aire, tougher than Nigerian hair,
My criteria compared to your career just isnt fair,
Ima venereal disease like a menstrual bleed..
Threw the pencil and leak the sheet of the tablet in my mind,
Cuz I dont write shit cuz I aint got time,
Cuz my seconds, minutes, hours go to the al mighty dollar …….

Reminds me of Jay-Z’s song ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ where he clowns women from all continents. I was irritated by his description of the African woman. Here are those lyrics.

I got this African chick with Eddie Murphy on her skull
She like, “Jigga Man, why you treat me like animal?”
I’m like excuse me Ms. Fufu, but when I met your ass
you was dead broke and naked, and now you want half ….

So what do you think? Creative or Insensitive?


21 thoughts on “We Makin’ Arab Money … Tougher Than Nigerian Hair … Creative Or Insensitive?

  1. Definitely insensitive.

    There is nothing creative in parroting statements like that. Busta, Jay Z and other such artists should know better than to make such references about Africans.

    They are more well traveled than the average American, and if that is the most creative way they can describe an African trait, culture or person, then what impressions do you think an American who has never traveled have of Africa?

    One of the most valuable assets anyone or any country has is their name. African countries should invest in better PR which would partly address all that erroneous information that is out there, or even initiate a campaign on the positives that we have to offer. The one-sided and biased information out there is part of the reason that Africa is so misunderstood….which brings to mind a song sang so hauntingly by Nina Simone, “Please Dont Let Me Be Misunderstood”, which I could argue speaks about Africa’s woes on the PR issue. It goes something like this:

    “Baby you understand me now
    If sometimes you see Im mad
    Doncha know that no one alive can always be an angel?
    When everything goes wrong you see some bad

    Well Im just a soul whose intentions are good
    Oh lord, please dont let me be misunderstood

    Ya know sometimes baby Im so carefree
    With a joy thats hard to hide
    Then sometimes it seems again that all I have is worry
    And then you burn to see my other side”

  2. Let me play play devil’s advocate here. I wouldn’t call it creative, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it insensitive either. I think African Americans generally have a culture of ‘clowning’ people even themselves. Maybe African people are being overly-sensitive? Seems to me that ‘Arab Money’ would be a good thing. Like its not enough to have American money, Arab Money means you really got it good? Well unless the Arabic when translated is offensive. Is that even really Arabic?

  3. I have no problem with the idiots who make the songs. My problem is with the idiots who listen to them….said idiots go like so: “that’s my shit!”, “that’s my song!”, “that’s my JAM!” and “this shit is banging!”. They know themselves!!!

  4. Maybe I don’t get it, but I don’t see what is so insulting in both Busta’s and Lil’ Wayne’s lyrics.
    On the other hand, I see where you’re coming from about Jay Z’s. However, Jay Z was referring to Eddie Murphy’s Raw. If you’ve not seen it, you should. I think it’s funny as hell. As long as you regard it as the satire it is. I tend to give artists the benefit of the doubt. I put the responsibility on the shoulders of the consumer to know better, to know satire/jokes from the truth. Instead I watch closely what said artists do away from their art.
    Ignorant people will be ignorant, a song or no song!

  5. @ Tuan, probably for the same reason that being called nappy-headed is insulting to many (mostly females).

    Either way I think Lil’ Wayne and Jay were being insensitive. (I am a fan of most of Hov’s music). Why did Lil’ Wayne single out Nigerians? Why didn’t he say ‘Tougher Than My Dreadlocked Hair’ ? Its not only about the words he used, but also the stereotypes of Nigerians by African-Americans. Not to mention that the subject of hair is a sensitive one for black females. And as for Lil’ Wayne’s line ‘I’m a venereal disease like a menstrual bleed’ …. the comparison doesn’t make sense.

  6. Oh brother Eric!!!!! I thank you soooooo much for your question! May God, Allah, Buddha or Shiva Natararaja richly bless!!

  7. It’s commercial HipHop….it’s 2009, we shouldn’t even be debating anything that has to do with it. It’s been like this…you know.

    As for lil’Wayne…I love my periods in that Womanist way, but dude looks like a menstrual bleed. Like the clotty part.

    Sorry…had to say it! It’s my dry, cold Wintertime humor.

  8. hehe, this is funny. really it is…but, Nelli, i think, these artist are not being insensitive. They are just trying to capitalize on publicity…all they want to do is stir up contraversy for the sake of publicity…which leads to sales.

    In regards to the arabic lyrics, they dont make much sense. Except of course, the La ilaha ilaha(no god but allah)., the rest is sort of gibberish. Busta is Muslim himself, so, i dont see much in this.

    As for Lil Wizzie, i dont know how he could’ve made it to be the best lyricist, those darn lyrics dont make sense, but then again…..i am just an African, i guess.

    For Hova, i think, he was talking from Experience. If i remember correctly, a friend of mine back in college days, had some insides of Hov’s crew and i remember him saying something about how Hov had an African squeeze,or such a scenario. i could have been dreaming about it,but,then,it is hardly i ever dream of Jayz(beyonce,maybe,lol).

  9. busta song is fukkin offensive specially the remx…how can u fukkin use verses from the holly quran thats not acceptible…to the muslimz saying its ok..their fukked its NOT okay..about lil wayne n jz what they said aint got nothing to do with religion…this dude is talking abour our religion offending our religion…so fukk him n his arab moneyy…he could say arab money or muslim money all he wanted…but fukking using verses from the quran n some drunked folkz gon be dancing in the clubs….thats fukkeddd…big time

  10. Lol. Iman, go kick Busta’s dumb ass! I’ll support you!

    You guys should just stop listening to that crap! In that way you’ll maintain your sanity.

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