Nicki Minaj, ‘Akbar’ and valet keys

There seems to be a twitter storm in a tea-cup regarding a mix-tape by the hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj. Minaj is a successful music artist. Her recent album, Roman Reloaded, sold over 1 million copies.

In a mix tape titled ‘Beam me up Scotty’, Minaj makes a reference to ‘Akbar’ and the traditional Arab greeting As-Salamu Alaykum. Readers should note that the mix tape is three years old.

Here’s a taste of the twitter rage earlier:

Here is what she says (emphasis added, be prepared for explicit language):

Please stop tellin me, im such a rock star

asa lama alakum where the fuck is akbar

give ’em my keys tell ’em valet my car

bees pon da wheels you can see them from far

Now all i need is a real mandingo gimmie good ruff

and distribute my single,

bootleg the mixtape out in nigeria

The entire video can be found here. I’m no expert in rap music, but to me, she clearly makes a reference to ‘Akbar’, who, if you immediately read the next line, happens to be a Valet attendant of some sort.

Contrary to the twitter storm, there is no mention to god, Allah. Though, you can see how fast the smear spread when you consider Allah and Akbar make the Islamic phrase Allahu Akbar (meaning god is greatest).

The nastiness displayed from the above tweets goes to show why artists will so often self-censor themselves when it comes to referencing Islam. In this case, Minaj did not do that (and so-what if she did?). But, it seems, even a familiar sounding Arab phrase and word can cause errors in translation.

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