You see, Arab Money wasn't intended as a slur on anyone. Oh, no. Why, when he first heard the song, Rhymes didn't even know it said 'Arab':
"I called [producer Ron Browz] on the phone. We were going shopping for the awards. I was riding around, and we were playing the beat over. I wanted to know what he was saying. [Ron] picked up the phone, and I was like, 'What are you saying on this joint?' I thought it was saying 'Maybach Money.' 'Maybach' or 'Arab' — it kinda rhymed. I needed confirmation."
Maybach sort of rhymes with Arab? Or Arab sort of rhymes with Money? Eh?
Browz, though, confirmed the chorus was Arab money. Rather than going "perhaps we should go with Maybach", Rhymes was thrilled:
"I was like, 'This is genius,' " he said. "Just the timing of this. The fact that the recession was crazy. Fortune 500 companies left and right are needing bailouts. I was like, 'You ain't hearing none of that going on with none of the people in the Arab community or Arab culture. None of that.' I was like, 'You know something? This is a great record to inspire people to incorporate wealth in their vocabulary, because rich has become the new broke.' 'Arab Money' — it felt right. Let's take something from a culture that has exemplified the rich qualities of spirituality and economic and financial stability for thousands of years. They've instilled that in their kids for thousands of years."
Aha. So it was a celebration of Arab money and their not needing bailouts because of their culture (it's not racist if its lazy stereotyping positively, right?). It doesn't seem to have occurred to Busta that the lack of collapse in the Arab economies might be something more to do with buoyant price of oil than rich qualities of spirituality.
Mind you, Rhymes' suggestion that what the west needs is to "incorporate wealth in its vocabulary" is such a blindingly obvious answer to the recession it's surprising that it hasn't been adopted as official Labour Party policy.
Still, Rhymes isn't bothered by the sneers at his song. Oh, no:
"It didn't hurt me, because I leave room for error, and I understand what happens in misunderstanding. It would have hurt me if people would have understood clearly the agenda of the record and still hated on it. That would have been a little different. But I feel a lot of people who had issues with it, they just misunderstood. Even those people, I hope they got a chance to see or get a chance to see what my real intent was and still is — that they got a different level of appreciation."
Well, yes. The idea might sound horribly ill-conceived, but when you read the lyrics - then you'll understand it:
Seven star hotels, Maybach, movie sick
Big bitches, knock-kneed camel-toed groupie shit
Women walk around while security on camelback
Club on fire now, niggas don't know how to act
Sittin' in casinos while I'm gamblin' with Arafat
Money long, watch me purchase pieces of the Almanac
Y'all already know, I got the streets buzzin'
While I make you bow down and make Salaat like a Muslim
See, now I take trips to Baghdad dummy
While I use stacked chips and count Arab money now
I don't need to get fresh, about to grow a beard duke
So much cake even the money look weird too
Domestic bread, and I'm broad, I'm tryna eat right
Prince Alwali, Bin Talal, Al Saul
They respect the value of my worth in Maui, Malaysia
Iran and Iraq, Saudi Arabia!
As a sensitive tribute to other nationalities, it makes Turning Japanese sound like the theme song of the model United Nations.
The thing is, Rhymes clearly does intend his song to be one of praise. He's not racist. He's just embarrassing.