Osama bin Laden Releases First Posthumous Rap AlbumDon't call it a comeback.
Disclaimer: The following attempt at humor should not, under any circumstances, be taken seriously.
A recording purported to have been made by Osama Bin Laden shortly before he died has been released by al-Qaeda.
The music world was jolted alive this week when the late Osama bin Laden, hailed as the father of militant Islamic rap, released his first posthumous album, The Qur’an-icle, just one month after his death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs. Bin Laden was known best for his nihilistic Islamic ideology and global campaign of terror, but music fans knew him as one of the most seminal rappers in the Middle East.
Bin Laden delves into a wide range of issues in his fifth and, what some are calling his greatest, album. Many tracks (“Jihadi 4 Life,” “I’m So Haram (feat. KSM & T-Pain),” “More Wives than Goats”) are the usual fare about what the rapper himself dubs “riyals, rupees, and rims”; but in “Virgins All Around,” a frenetic rap number that effortlessly blends samples from Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, bin Laden explores his haunting conception of the afterlife; while “Fuck the ISI,” proves bin Laden hasn’t forgotten his hip-hop mujahedeen roots, and settles, once and for all, that the terrorist leader was definitely not on friendly terms with the Pakistani intelligence agency.
But the aging rapper saves his most sophisticated rhymes for the diss track “Osama > Obama,” continuing the rap battle between bin Laden and the U.S. President. In it, bin Laden raps about shooting down Air Force One with a shoulder-mounted RPG and insinuates that he has had intercourse with the First Lady. Overall, The Qur’an-icle confirms that bin Laden, even deceased, is still the most controversial rapper in the game.
Not surprisingly, the reviews have been unfailingly positive. Rolling Stone called it “revelatory” and “a celebration of life, death, and everything in between,” while Pitchfork’s Mike Lowell called it, “divinely inspired… Mohammad who? It’s Osama who’s getting his verses straight from Allah.”
The fan reaction to the album, however, has not been so positive. Some lifelong fans feel cheated because some tracks are just rehashes of bin Laden’s old hits, including “Jihad-knock Life (Allahu Akbar remix)” and “Carmen Sandiego (remix feat. Hennaman & The Tora Bora Boyz).” Others were previously leaked on bin Laden’s last mixtape, The Laden III.
But perhaps the most exciting track on The Qur’an-icle is “I’m Tha Bomb” (to be released as the second single), in which bin Laden raps from the point of view of a suicide bomber and delivers brilliantly on the double entendre of the title by contrasting the explosive power of the charge strapped to his chest with the fecklessness of impoverished Arab youth. The resulting track—part recruiting anthem for al-Qaeda (bin Laden’s rap label), part meditation on the roots of Islamic terrorism—is exultant and could prove to be the surprise hit of the summer.
Before his untimely death, even bin Laden’s loudest critics recognized him as a rapper at the top of his game and praised his courage to rap about issues others wouldn’t dare to. In “Turbans in the Air,” bin Laden criticizes how “tolerant” and “pussy” Islam has gotten and calls for a return to fundamentalism. While in “Abottabadass,” bin Laden blatantly taunts his American foes and ridicules their inability to locate him. He defiantly raps, “You call that shit intelligence? You infidel scum / Where I’m at ya’ll don’t got a clue, Professor Plum,” over the simmering chorus, “Shi’ites gonna hate / Fuck ‘em, my mansion’s got a gate / I’m an Abottabadass.”
Though bin Laden’s demise has hit the militant Islamic rap industry hard, an A&R from al-Qaeda Records said that bin Laden was prolific in his writing. “Bin Laden knew this day was coming,” he said. “He had a studio full of unreleased tracks. Like any great rapper, death won’t stop him from dropping albums.”