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The Legend of Jeddah Legend

December 10, 2008

Once in a while, you’re privileged (or perhaps unfortunate) to witness something that is so bizarre that it cannot simply be written off; rather, its sheer ridiculousness (ironically enough) merits for it to be analyzed in order to understand what is really going on. It is a wonder of the times that it is not the lofty or even mundane that have this ability–but rather it is the outlandish that possesses this remarkable characteristics. The above video is perhaps the latest example of such a phenomenon.

When I first saw this video, I had no idea what to make of it. I thought it was a joke, one of those spoof videos that go viral on the internet from time to time (which is another wonder of our times, for the record). I thought it was a satirical attempt by a bunch of guys playing around to mock the idiosyncrasies of the Middle East (and what better example to pick than a wedding) by using the medium of rap–and I’m not talking about new age rap or even the 90’s gangsta rap of Tupac and Biggie… no, this was using the old school 80’s I’m-going-to-tell-a-story-and-keep-it-clean rap genre that tragically died out way too quickly.

But then it dawned on me: this wasn’t a joke. It was real, these guys were really trying to fuse together Arab culture (evident in old boy singing classical Arabic voice-inflection melodies as an introduction) and hip-hop, which of course, is  the epitome of irony in all its forms. I did some research, consulting the grand Shaykh of our times, Shaykh Waki`-Badie* and found the following article to be quite remarkable: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Eastern_hip_hop)

(*interlude: it is yet another sign of our times that while the illustrious scholars of our past like Imam al-Shafi`i had luminaries like his teacher, Waki`, to consult when they had problems, we  turn to the grand Shaykh of our times, Shaykh Waki` Badie,  when we have questions).

And the resulting ridiculousness? Not to Muslims in the Middle East (and across the world), who have not only failed to recognize the complete lack of talent that has been packaged together and labeled as music, but have actually embraced and bought into all the hype–and trust me, if there was ever hype, this is it.  In today’s times, lacking any perceivable talent actually helps you to sell albums, and this phenomenon too, is found now in the Middle East.

There are many themes that one can analyze from this video. Perhaps the most evident (and most troublesome) theme is that of the complete lack of identity for Muslims in the Middle East. A great historical legacy that was the identity of Muslims for generations now has been lost, replaced with new legends like Jeddah Legend. This new legend attempts to tap into the past while incorporating facets of Western society that have the least relevance to people living in the Middle East. As one example, the same dude singing classical Arabic to start the song appears in urban gear (as if he’s from the ghetto, no less) halfway through, and many backup singers (or posse members if you will… oh wait, I guess that’s like the new `asab) appears in thobes/scarves in one scene and Dwayne Wade jerseys with caps tipped to the right side in other scenes. Of course, they have no understanding what these symbols mean (some of them can get you killed if you display them in the wrong places) and instead garb themselves like complete buffoons in the clothing of a people with whom they share little in common.

This of course is even more ironic when we see examples of what facets of Muslim culture are still “important” to this new culture, such as making sure there is a “zabihah buffet” for the wedding and incorporating Arabic maxims such as “faragh ba`dah saa`ah” (play comes after work) into the midst of all this. Whether this is an effort to cling to the past or legitimize–legally or culturally–this social revolution remains a debatable issue. It is clear, however, that such phenomenon occur when we fail to “remember who we are.” (yes, shameless plug for a previous post with that title).

There’s much more I could have brought out from this video, but hopefully this serves as a starting point. Keep all this in mind and perhaps watch the video again… it will change your life.

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5 Comments
  1. maulanaMUSCLES permalink

    get married kr

    seriously

    and call me back!

  2. hsn permalink

    Excellent points, these arabs seems to be suffering from an identity crisis

  3. kr156 permalink

    ^i had read those articles when they came out, and wow, subhanallah, it’s a microcosm of the muslim world. the ka’bah representing all that is sacred it itself being surrounded on all sides by all that is mundane, similar to the muslim condition now, wherein our greatest threat isn’t a physical one, but all those forces that threaten to destroy our moral and spiritual integrity. the money involved is insane, and since capitalism is all about making money, it should come as no surprise that people see money can be made in the holiest of places and are after it like vultures that eye a dying corpse.

  4. EasyThere permalink

    Dude, it’s just a wedding song..lol

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