A rapper in Dubai made a parody of Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” and adding a flavorful, dark twist: one that conjures memories of the Iraq War.
Rapper I-NZ -who was born to Iraqi parents in Scotland but grew up in New Zealand- released “This is Iraq” in audio and video forms on July 4, fifteen years after the United States invaded the Middle Eastern nation in what would become one of the longest and most controversial conflicts of the 21st Century.
I-NZ, who goes by “Majid” to those he knows, followed Childish Gambino’s style in both song and video, performing a bizarre “rap” accompanying imagery of issues within the confines of a warehouse.
While Gambino (AKA Donald McKinley Glover Jr.) covered pop domestic topics in America, Majid went the other direction, covering issues that are still fresh in the minds of Iraqis, ranging from military occupation to gangs and executions.
Since posting to YouTube, the video has been viewed 2,489,981 times.
“I’m a big fan of the original track and the manner in which it was executed,” Majid told Newsweek, referencing “This is America” and its commercial success. “Since political tracks rarely ever go as viral as this one did, I felt like it was the perfect platform to remind everyone what Iraq had been through and what it still is currently going through.”
Despite being of Iraqi descent, Majid has never actually been to Iraq and used historical culture references, as well as events that made international headlines during the Iraq War.
One culture reference includes a few lines from Iraqi poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab’s “The River and Death,” which references the Buwaib river, that runs through Basra.
“Buwaib, oh Buwaib, bells of a lighthouse lost at the bottom of the sea, water is in the pots and the sunset in the trees, the pots ooze bells of rain, their crystal melts away in wailing, Buwaib, oh Buwaib, sympathy for you, Buwaib, darkens in my blood, sorrowful like rain, oh my river, Buwaib, oh Buwaib,” the poem reads.
Other references include the US torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the mass executions by ISIS and religious militants, looting after the invasion and US troops being killed in action during the lengthy conflict.
Majid makes no efforts to hide his feelings on the Iraq War, but doesn’t feel the same way about Americans as a people.
“The initial US-led invasion of Iraq was illegal and should have never happened,” he said. For the most part, I don’t believe that any country should act as an occupying force on foreign lands. I don’t think I would like to say much more regarding this subject. My opinion regarding the US as a government during certain periods of time is very different to my opinion of it as a country and a people. My encounters with Americans has always been great. I’m a huge fan of American pop culture, especially considering my admiration and love for hip-hop as an art form.”
According to Majid, it is better to spread a message of peace and hope for a better future than to hold grudges.
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