OK, maybe not so "good."
- By J. Dana StusterJ. Dana Stuster is an assistant editor at Foreign Policy. He has studied at the American University of Beirut and graduated in 2010 with degrees in English and International Relations from the University of California, Davis. Before coming to FP, his work appeared in the Atlantic and the National Interest, among other publications.
In the spirit of Ben Smith’s "11 BuzzFeed Lists That Explain the World" for the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy, the FP staff decided to look at the world through BuzzFeed’s eyes for a day. For more, check out 14 Hairless Cats That Look Like Vladimir Putin, 7 Things North Korea Is Really Good At, 36 Mustaches That Explain Why There’s No Peace in the Middle East, and 1 Pentagon Weapons System That Was on Time and Under Budget.
1. "Dirty Kuffar" – By Sheikh Terra, feat. Soul Salah Crew
Definitely the flashiest of the independent English-language jihadi rap videos, "Dirty Kuffar" (shown above) was released by a British extremist site in 2004. The rap — which Wikipedia notes samples Lumidee’s 2003 single "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)" — has "a reggae/rap hybrid style in the mold of popular artist Sean Paul," according to a review by counterterrorism expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. The song singles out Western leaders as non-believers to be targeted, with lyrics such as:
The Ronald Reagan was a dirty kuffar.
The Mr. Tony Blair is a dirty kuffar.
The one Mr. Bush is a dirty kuffar….
Throw them in the fire.
2. "Blow By Blow" – Abu Mansoor al-Amriki (Omar Hammami)
Omar Hammami, who goes by the stage name Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, is, as his nom de guerre suggests, an American — a 28-year-old Alabaman who traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabab in 2006. His breakout hit, "Blow by Blow," which dropped online in 2009, featured the lyrics:
Bomb by bomb,
blast by blast,
only going to bring back the glorious past.
3. "Amir of the Ansar" – Asadaullah Alshishani
Danger Room’s Adam Rawnsley reviewed this gem when it came out in 2010:
Kanye. Ke$ha. Al Qaeda. History’s greatest monsters all have something in common – beyond their insatiable appetites for human blood. They’ve all used the "autotune" voice-shaping software to make their otherwise sucky voices sound all cool and computer-y….
Alshishani even asks forgiveness for "its poor quality." With lyrical gems like "Amir of the Ansaar/How beautiful you are!/Your sword gleams in the sun/Like a shining star" the apology is much needed.
The song was recorded on May 15 while Alshishani was, as he describes, "high on a mountain top." It’s unclear at press time whether that description applied to his physical or mental altitude.
Danger Room is like the Pitchfork of jihadi rap.
4. "Make Jihad with Me" – Abu Mansoor al-Amriki (Omar Hammami)
With only a friend for accompaniment, Hammami’s tracks sound thin, but his delivery doesn’t help. Despite being an internationally wanted terrorist, Hammami spits rhymes with all the confidence of a karaoke night first-timer. On "Make Jihad with Me," Hammami gets a little carried away with the voice manipulation on lines like:
Attack America now, martyrdom or victory.
We’re taking Nairobi to Addis,
come on, Muslim brother, bring your money or your life.
5. "Gun Fire Sound" – M-Team (not available for listening online, but it’s on iTunes)
M-Team, the sanitized name of the rapping duo formerly known as Mujahideen Team, isn’t generally out to make war on the West, and their song "The Conquest of Self" (featuring Amir Sulaiman) is all about setting violent jihad aside ("It’s the conquest of self/put the guns up on the shelf/that’s bad for your health and your wealth/live, conquer the inner/God bless the child/God save the sinner"). But "Gun Fire Sound," off their first album, "Clash of Civilizations" (yes, they read their Samuel Huntington), imagines fighting the non-believers:
We need a strong iman,
I pull the trigger calm,
the land of Babylon.
Come hear me one time,
we on the front line.
These kaffirs want mine,
these kaffirs hunt mine.
We don’t want no war,
all we want is peace.
Gunfire sounds fire round
and we never cease.
6. "First Stop Addis" – Abu Mansoor al-Amriki (Omar Hammami)
A bad song among bad songs, "First Stop Addis" contains such dated lyrics as:
From Mogadishu, first stop Addis,
gonna knock America down to her knees.
Better call Zenawi, Bush, and Condoleez,
Marines, Army, Navy, and the police.
7. "Day of Retribution" – M-Team (feat. Amir Sulaiman)
Also from their "Clash of Civilizations" album, the track "Day of Retribution" fantasizes about a violent uprising against oppressors.
SPOKEN: Today is the day of retribution!
Today is the day of jihad!
Today is the day of victory or martyrd
so all you who believe, raise your hand and ready your weapons…
SUNG: Bust your weapons, take off oppression,
take their lives and right-hand possessions,
snatch a politician out the election,
give him injections, lethal infections…
The revolution, kaffir execution,
the true solution, the day of retribution!
8. "Motive Transportation" – Sons of Hagar
Another group singled out by Gartenstein-Ross in his review of "Dirty Kuffar," the Sons of Hagar are a Washington state-based duo who specialize in anti-government conspiracy theories, anti-Israel tracts, and violent fantasies like this one:
9/11, who paid the price?
System got a Muslim trippin’ and torn into the justice system,
its lack of precision and a horrible condition.
So with my sword I slice and I bring justice back with appetite.
End of time, Armageddon,
leaving enemies with clenching fists and sliced necks,
heads with faceless expressions.
So where’s your weapons?
The "rapping jihadist of the West" trope isn’t unique to English-speaking rappers. In Germany, Denis Mamadou Cuspert, who for a time was the rapper Deso Dogg, gave up his career as a popular artist to try his hand at bad jihadi rap under the name Abou Maleeq. His first attempt, an ode to "Sheikh Usama," didn’t do so well, and seems to have been heavily influenced by the less-is-less stylings of Hammami.