Category Archives: Hip Hop

The Second Coming: Slouching Towards Qasr al-Qobba

TBE still carries a torch, however flickering, for Mohamed ElBaradei, but we feel the need to offer some advice on his* “campaign,” and where we see things moving from here. We originally intended to make this one long post, but decided that might be too boring for readers, so we’ve split it into two parts. Part 1 deals with the necessity of creating campaign infrastructure now, instead of waiting until the immediate pre-election period. Part 2 will deal with policy and messaging, and what we see as ElBaradei’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas, especially vis-a-vis Amr Moussa.

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Filed under Hip Hop, Politics, Special Reports


Limited engagement. One weekend only. You can call me uncle.

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Filed under Downtown Personages, Hip Hop, Posterity, The Boursa

Remember Rappin’ Gulf Capital?*

First, a dedication to our readers…

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Filed under Hip Hop, Music, Posterity

TBE Assignments Editor

The Muslim Brotherhood's favorite bank?

Dear Foreign Correspondents,

It’s a journalistic and academic commonplace to maintain that the Muslim Brotherhood derives some (or a lot) of support by providing social services for the poor-middle classes.

It’s also a journalistic and academic commonplace to maintain that the government is heavily involved in licensing and generally sticking its nose in everything. And it’s not exactly possible to run a medical clinic or whatever in secret, even if you’re totally deمحظورة out like مظاهر محظورة . (That’s a Kriss Kross reference.)

Where these two common places overlap lies an interesting story angle.

Bonus incentive: Al-Baradei will return on the 19th, and you’ll surely get a story out of it. But between now and then nothing is likely to happen that will get your name in the newspaper/magazine.

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Filed under Conspiracy Theories, Hip Hop, Journalism, Politics

TBE Detained Again! Looks Forward To A Long Life Of Being Profiled At US Borders!

"Sittin here grillin people like George Foreman" -Kanye. Also TBE is considering making a film called "Must Love George Grosz," a "Must Love Dogs" for the LRB/NYRB personals set.

TBE has once again alighted (alit) in our ancestral homeland, just in time for a slew of prophet’s birthdays and new yearseses and things.  Which meant passing through JFK, which meant our first chance to see if entering the country on a fresh passport would allow us to bypass the security scrutiny that we so graciously countenanced last time we entered the homeland. (Is it just us or does that word sound better in German?)

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Filed under Conspiracy Theories, Hip Hop, Journalism, Music, Politics, Special Reports

(Third) Base Politics

This was TBE's jam back in '91.

TBE Meta-Commentary: In this piece, our fearless correspondent Michael Jeffrey Flackslashman offers a highly speculative reading of recent developments in Egypt. We aren’t sure he’s right about what’s going on, but we hope it sparks a broader discussion about changing socio-political dynamics and where they are likely to lead.

For background reading, please see Jack Shenker’s recent Guardian article on the wages of structural adjustment, a glancing mention of the middle class or lack thereof at Egyptian Chronicles, and this post by The Traveller Within, which isn’t strictly related but does have some bearing on the below points.

News Analysis: Bringing Order to Cairo’s Chaotic Streets

By Michael Jeffrey Flackslashman

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Filed under Academics, Conspiracy Theories, Downtown, Hip Hop, Politics

Establishments: Egyptian, Literary and Hip Hop

TBE is more-or-less out of pocket due to a number of annoying intrusions on our regularly scheduled bloggingzeit, so we’ll probably be reduced to subsistence blogging during the next period.


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Filed under Books, Hip Hop, Jokes, Music, Politics, Reviews, Translations


Eventually made the right call on Saree Makdisi

Tilting at Straw Men; or, Upsetting the Apple Cart Before the Horse

As others who are much more knowledgeable about Arabic literature than us have already pointed out, a big chunk of the current issue of literary journal Public Spaces is devoted to young Egyptian writers. One thing we pondered while reading the lead article, which is the only content available online, is the interest in placing writers into distinct “generations” (not least by writers themselves, it seems) and the perceived need to frame the discussion politically. Not having the vocabularial fortitude to read Arabic literature in its native language, we’re ill-suited to analyze the issue (or even moreso than we usually are, as it were). But in the spirit of Einstein, we’ll do so anyway, if only as a means of taking a couple of our hobbyhorses for a stroll around the corral, and in hopes of gaining a larger audience for the journal and its featured authors in the days and years to come.

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Filed under Academics, Books, Downtown, Downtown Personages, Hip Hop, Politics, Translations

Brothers Gonna Work It Out… or Big Trouble in Little Manial??? : تي بي يي للترجمة


Video after the jump.

This is why democracy sucks: Sometimes you get results you don’t like. Today’s story, variations of which appeared in a number of independent papers, deals with the case of Essam al-Erian, probably the best-known Brotherhood leader in the West, because he always seems to be quoted in stories about the movement.

The back story, in brief:  al-Erian came in sixth in elections for five seats in the Guidance Office. A few weeks ago, Guidance Office member Muhammad Helal passed away, freeing up a seat. Supreme Guide Mehdi Akef immediately moved to appoint al-Erian to Helal’s old seat. Conservatives in the Guidance Office, most of whom are little known because they come from the provinces, took umbrage at Akef’s diktat, and have apparently rejected the seating of al-Erian, much to Akef’s chagrin.

A few points:

  • Academics and others who follow the Brotherhood and often have trouble finding information on the group’s provincial leadership and cadres can take heart in the fact that the Cairo leadership is apparently quite ignorant of what’s happening out there as well, if the last quote below is any indication.
  • One rarely, if ever, sees Brotherhood conservatives quoted in the press. Is this because a) reporters are lazy or b) the conservatives are press-averse (possibly because they believe, we are told, that the Brotherhood should move away from politicking and back toward grassroots societal transformation) or c) a combination of both. Regardless, the press strategy adopted by al-Erian’s supporters appears counter-productive, as it is sure to further alienate the conservatives.
  • This is one of those interesting cases where the “conservatives” are upholding democratic values against the wishes of the moderate camp. In that sense it reminds us of certain “moderate Arab states” that reject democracy because it might result in a victory for the “conservative” Islamist opposition.
  • Readers interested in the story should be reading Abdelmonem Mahmoud, whose coverage and commentary on the affair is excellent.
  • The second half of the article, which we didn’t translate, is about the (possible) impending release of Abd al-Moneim Abu al-Fotouh, and rumors again swirling about a deal between the Brotherhood and the government, with the latter releasing some Brotherhood prisoners in exchange for acquiescence to Gamal’s ascendance.
  • These “let’s make a deal” stories strike us as silly. One benefit of the Brotherhood’s increased transparency is that such a deal would inevitably leak to the press. Even if the leadership did sign a deal it would not be able to maintain internal discipline, and possibly lead some important factions to leave the group.
  • This is all quite aside from the point that there is no indication that the government especially fears the Brotherhood’s reaction to inheritance, so there is no real reason for them to make a deal.

From al-Shorouk’s Saturday, October 17 edition:

Crisis in the Brotherhood Because of the Committee to Appoint al-Erian

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Filed under Hip Hop, Politics, Translations

Quick Links for October 15, 2009

Meet your new junior Senator from Oklahoma!

Meet your new junior Senator from Oklahoma!

Dept. of Congressional Oversight:

We always love when articles on the Middle East bemoan the fact that societies here are infiltrated with conspiratorial thinking, as though the US was a paradise of rationality…

In our first story, the spawn of some rightwing cranks infiltrated the US Muslim advocacy organization CAIR, then wrote a book about it. The conclusion: CAIR runs a typical DC lobbying/PR operation. But of course that didn’t stop a group of public diplomacy-minded House Republicans from attempting to use the book to gear up a witch-hunt against Muslim hill staffers.

Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, is trying to cut off funding for political science, on grounds that fancy research is unnecessary when people can just watch CNN or Fox news (or even read blogs, if they really want to become experts on politics). Anonymous hill staffers told TBE that Coburn wants to divert funding to the hard sciences, specifically research into robotics. His vision, they said, is to create an robot that can be programmed with updatable Republican talking points and perhaps the complete works of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, rendering Republican legislators of Coburn’s ilk redundant, and saving hardworking US taxpayers from the burden of funding their salaries, copious staffs and government-funded healthcare.


BBC Xtra podcast on class and music in Egypt (Arabic).

An annotated Google map of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Posse on Broadway.”

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Filed under Academics, Books, Conspiracy Theories, Hip Hop, Miscellaneous Links, Music, Politics