Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Outkast's "B.O.B." (Bombs Over Baghdad)/Another Case of Musical Cooptation

Jim Doppke got me to (nearly) the 21st Century by relaying that Outkast's "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)," from 1999, a quasi-political song which seems to be about the political state of the union, life in the ghetto, and bombing Baghdad, had also been coopted by the military for its own ends. Here's a link to the video of Outkast's "B.O.B.".

It's intriguing to think that this song came out in 1999, on the heels of President Clinton's bombing of Iraq in 1998's Operation Desert Fox (the ill-named campaign that echoes the Nazi Rommel's nickname), as a result of Iraq's alleged failure to allow weapons inspectors into its facilities. (Never mind that no weapons of note were ever found.) Meanwhile, other smaller wars, over the souls of men and women in the ghettos of this country, continued to rage.

Here are the lyrics:
"B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)"

1, 2.. 1, 2, 3; yeah!
In-slum-national, underground
Thunder pounds when I stomp the ground (Woo!)
Like a million elephants and silverback orangutans
You can't stop a train
Who want some? Don't come un-pre-pared
I'll be there, but when I leave there
Better be a household name
Weather man tellin' us it ain't gon' rain
So now we sittin' in a drop-top, soaking wet
In a silk suit, tryin' not to sweat
Hits somersaults without the net
But this'll be the year that we won't forget
One-Nine-Nine-Nine, Anno Domini anything goes, be whatchu wanna be
Long as you know consequences, to give and for livin'
The fence is too high to jump in jail
Too low to dig, I might just touch hell
HOT! Get a life, now they on sale
Then I might cast you a spell, look at what came in the mail
A scale and some Arm and Hammer, soul gold grill and some baby mama
Black Cadillac and a pack of pampers
Stack of question with no answers
Cure for cancer, cure for AIDS
Make a nigga wanna stay on tour for days
Get back home, things are wrong
Well not really it was bad all along
before he left adds up, to a ball of power
Thoughts at a thousands miles per hour
Hello, ghetto, let your brain breathe,
believe there's always more, ahhhhh!

[Chorus: 2X]
[Dre] Don't pull the thang out, unless you plan to bang
[Choir] Bombs over Baghdad!
[Dre] Yeah! Ha ha yeah!
Don't even bang unless you plan to hit something
[Choir] Bombs over Baghdad!
[Dre] Yeah! Uhh-huh

[Big Boi]
Uno, dos, tres, it's on
Did you ever think a pimp rock a microphone?
Like that there boy and we still stay street
Big things happen every time we meet
Like a track team, crack fiend, dying to geek
Outkast bumpin' up and down the street
Slant back, Cadillac, 'bout five nigga deep
Seventy-five MC's freestylin' to the beat
Cause we get crunk, stay crunk, at the club
Should have bought an ounce, but you copped a dub
Should have held back, but you throwed the punch
'Spose to meet your girl but you packed a lunch
No D to-the U to-the G for you
Got a son on the way by the name of Bamboo
Got a little baby girl four year, Jordan
Never turn my back on my kids for them
Should have hit it (hit it) quit it (quit it) rag (rag) top (top)
Before you RE up, get a laptop
Make a business for yourself, boy, set some goals
Make a fat diamond out of dusty coals
Record number four, but we on the road
Hold up, slow up, stop, control
Like Janet, Planets, Stankonia is on ya
A movin' like Floyd commin' straight to Florida
Lock all your windows then block the corridors
Pullin' off on bell 'cause a whippings in order
I like a three piece fish before I cut your daughter
Yo quiero Taco Bell, then I hit the border
Pity PAT rappers tryin' to get the five
I'm a microphone fiend tryin' to stay alive
When you come to ATL boi you better not hide
cause the Dungeon Family gon' ride, hah!

[Chorus: 2X]
[Dre] Don't pull the thang out, unless you plan to bang
[Choir] Bombs over Baghdad!
[Dre] Yeah! Ha ha yeah!
Don't even bang unless you plan to hit something
[Choir] Bombs over Baghdad!
[Dre] Yeah! Uhh-huh

Bombs over Baghdad! Yeah
Bombs over Baghdad! Yeah
Bombs over Baghdad! Yeah
Bombs over Baghdad! Yeah

B-I-G, B-O-I
To the T-O-P

[Dre and Big Boi: 15X]
Bob your head. Rag top.

(1, 2.. 1, 2, 3, 4) (Gimme some)

From Softpedia News:
OutKast member Andre 3000 was shocked to know that one of his songs became the morning wake-up call for the troops in Iraq.

Andre, 30, the one half of the successful and avant-garde hip-hop duo OutKast, revealed that he found out from a neighbor, who has a son in Iraq, that the solders are using his song, Bombs Over Baghdad, as their morning wake-up call and it is considered to be helpful for the troops morale.

He says: "My dad's next-door-neighbor’s son sent a letter home saying how Bombs Over Baghdad was the song that they wake up to. It gets them hyped. I don't know if I want it to be a rally song for troops, but if it helps morale and keeps them going, I guess it's a good thing."


Chaerephon said...

After thinking about the different ways this song could be read, and OutKast's sort of befuddled reaction to the way it was popularly read, I realized that the devil here is not in the details but in the big picture.

The really depressing thing is that ordinary people apparently look for songs that they think justify, and glorify, bombing -- and that they hold songs that glorify bombing specific places to be even more boss. (I get why soldiers would seek out these kinds of songs.)

Remember this story (AP)?

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida At Jennifer Capriati's request, the 1999 Outkast song "Bombs Over Baghdad" was played on the stadium public-address system before her most recent match at the Nasdaq-100 Open.

"I like the song, and I wanted to support the troops," Capriati said Tuesday through a WTA Tour spokesman.

Philip Metres said...

We're back to "The Ride of the Valkyries," right?! That, right next to "Charlie Don't Surf."

Chaerephon said...

I also forgot to point out that "B.O.B." isn't technically 21st century art. One nine nine nine y'all! :-)

Philip Metres said...

Creeping ever closer to the 21st century.