Written by Brett Taylor
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Topics: Osama Bin Laden

Friday, 12 November 2010

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Osama

Government officials today confirmed the authenticity of a mix tape made by Osama bin Laden. The tape was mailed last week to the offices of Al-Jazeera and is believed to have been recorded in a cave in Afghanistan.

The tape is a departure for bin Laden, who usually makes recordings of fiery anti-U.S. rants. Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson explains, "This new tape is a compilation of songs, intended to lift the spirits of the faithful. The technology is very crude, showing the primitive ways of fundamentalist radicals. He's still making compilations on cassette tapes, while any modernized man would simply recommend his followers download the song off the Internet. Clearly the Afghans have a long way to go before catching up with Western standards of pop music. Bin Laden seems to be taking a bit of a break. Chilling out to some mellow dance tunes, and occasionally lifting his spirits with some more upbeat material. Mostly I thinking he's recharging his batteries until the next attack. I also think he's getting sentimental about his youth. A lot of people don't know that, as a youth in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden spent his nights in discos, doing cocaine and boogeying down. So it was no surprise to find 'Night Fever' and several other Bee Gees songs on this tape."

"The tape's not particularly hip," says SPIN magazine critic Mikael Wood, "but that's to be expected for an old man. Frankly I would have preferred to have a few younger artists like My Chemical Romance or Vampire Weekend. Otherwise, what's to appeal to bin Laden's younger followers. By concentrating on so many chestnuts by America and Joni Mitchell, he's not going to attract anyone who's not over the hill. I would have liked him to expose his soul a little more, maybe pick some emo songs that really allow him to lay his heart bare." Fellow SPIN reviewer Barry Walters disagreed, saying "Aint no thang for bin Laden to rock the jams! This cat knows how to put together a tight joint! And the choice of misogynistic rap songs by the likes of N.W.A. and Too Short is really clever. It allows him to appeal to tough urban listeners while still adhering to the treatment of women as practiced by fundamentalists."

Many were surprised to learn the tape includes the Doobie Brothers' version of the gospel song "Jesus is Just Alright with Me." But, as Islamic expert Michael Knapp explains, "Nowhere in the song does it say Jesus is the Messiah. In Islam Jesus is indeed all right. He just isn't the Messiah."

Unsubstantiated rumors have it that the terrorist's next offering will be far more ambitious-and far riskier. Bin Laden is reportedly going to record his own album, reportedly with the assistance of top pop producers Benny Blanco and Dr. Luke, recently known for Kesha's hit "Tik Tok." Walters has heard a bootleg of what is believed to be part of the album, and predicts it will live up to expectations. "He was clearly inspired by the success of John Paul II's Abba Peter. But his album really throws down a gauntlet to the Vatican in terms of sheer musical experimentation. Bin Laden's rapping is a little stiff. He is white, you know. But once you hear him do Eminem's 'Lose Yourself,' the song gains a whole new perspective. And doing an incendiary cover of Sly and the Family Stone's 'Fuck You Honky' is, well, radical. The more traditional stuff is lacking, though like a tired cover of Cole porter's 'I Get a Kick Out of You,' and a really cringe-inducing version of 'Tomorrow' from the musical Annie. Some of the songs are a little obscure for American tastes, as they deal with subtle hairsplitting of Sunni versus Shia law, and there's one about the Oil Embargo of 1979 that's a little preachy and long-winded. There's some cornball poetry too, old Edgar Guest stuff, about fishin' poles and puppies.

"But, make no mistake, we haven't heard the last of this man."

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