Learning a Lesson or Two from Arabic Hip-Hop

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Commentator Aaron Freeman recently spent a couple of hours watching Arabic hip-hop videos. He says that hip-hop is an American form, but that U.S. rappers might do well to learn a lesson from their Arabic-speaking colleagues.


Hip hop music has spread from the American streets throughout the world. Commentator Aaron Freeman says Arab Hip hop has a unique feature, and he thinks American artists should take notice.

AARON FREEMAN reporting:

Whatever else you say about the Arabs, they sure know how to make hip hop videos. Sitting in a Hookah Bar in Washington D.C., I spent a few hours recently watching Arab language hip hop videos on the bar's big screen TV. It was sort of like BET meets PBS. There were lots of guys in below the knee pants and, of course, plenty of bling. From shots of Cadillac grills to dancers wearing full platinum medallions the size of cruise ship anchors. Their videos have most of the right stuff to score with America hip hop fans.

But Arab hip hop videos lack misogyny. Not only are women not referred to as hoes, they don't act like them. There were plenty of attractive women, but the ones I saw showed way, way less skin than their US cousins. Arab hip hop artists treat women more as objects of romantic fantasy than angry lust. Arab hip hoppers, of course, show all the rage for which testosteronic (sic) boys are famous, but their fury is aimed less at women than at Israel.

Now, I am not morphing into Tipper Gore here. I like Al, but not that way. And I am really glad America's hip hoppers are free to express their whole selves, including their anger at women. And I'm not saying we should start dancing like the Egyptians. But wouldn't it be cool to see a video where Snoop Dog embraced a hookah rather than a joint and danced with a woman who it looked like he loved.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Aaron Freeman, writer and performer, lives in Chicago.

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