Sample Sunday Vol. 8: Abdel Halim Hafez & Jay Z

Abdel Halim Ali Shabana (you probably know him as Abdel Halim Hafez), was born in Egypt in 1929. Not only was he an apparently legendary singer, but he is a fantastic Wikipedia entry as well. Now, we should all know that Wikipedia is a tepid cesspool of unreliability, but his bio seems so questionable it warns readers that it “Has an unclear citation style” and “may be written from a fan’s point of view, rather than a neutral point of view,” all of which seems to be Wikipedia saying “Hey man, like even for us, this is some super sketchy information.” Here’s what you can expect when you’re boning up on your Abdel Halim Hafez trivia:

“He had many more dreams and goals that he wanted to achieve and surpass and could have, but his early death prevented him from doing so…”

Sure, I mean, probably, right? I bet that holds true for a lot of people. It’s not really trivia, but whatever. Anyway, what’s next?

“Some people committed suicide once they heard of Halim’s passing.”

Sure, I mean, maybe, right? I mean, it’s kind of strange to put that in there, but still. Anyway, it was probably very sad, and I don’t want to bring up a sore subject, Wikipedia poster, so I’ll move on.

“It has been reported that at least four women committed suicide by jumping off the balcony during his funeral march.”


Wait, at least four? That’s not a number you could officially nail down, how many people voluntarily plummeted to their death during an isolated event in a relatively centralized location? Four, excuse me, I mean, At Least Four, is the kind of number somebody picks when they want to lie about something and want to be specific so it sounds like they’re not lying.

“Hey, how many times did you say you went out with that Victoria’s Secret model?”
“Five times.”
“See, you can go straight to hell because nobody believes that.”
“Hey, how many times did you say you went out with that Victoria’s Secret model?”
“At least four times.”
“Huh. Sorry things didn’t work out man, you’re a good dude and you deserve to be happy.”

So anyway, apparently this gentleman was worshiped by a legion of loyal female supporters, which makes it only right that 40 years later, “Big Pimpin,” Jay Z’s ode to being really, really disrespectful to women, introduced this song to unknowing rap fans everywhere. Here’s the original tune, used in the 1960 Egyptian film Fata Ahlami.

And here’s Big Pimpin:

Before we proceed, a quick reminder: Say you invite Dame Dash to your birthday party, bat mitzvah or what not, and he arrives without a shirt, then proceeds to pour his drink on everyone in attendance. If/when this takes place, you have no right, I repeat, no right to complain. Pouring drinks on people and not wearing shirts is the life Dash has chosen. This is something you need to understand.

Anyway, this wasn’t a sample by the technical, literal definition (Timbaland rerecorded it for “Big Pimpin”), but it’s pretty much the same thing, especially if you ask all the Egyptian guys who keep suing them for using it. I don’t have the transcript handy, but I believe the first suit went something like this:
Copyright holder: “Hey man, you stole that from my song.”
Timbaland: “What? No way. You can’t prove that.”
(Copyright holder plays original song, after which Timbaland just stares at him for like five minutes.)
Timbaland: “I don’t really see it.”

There was another suit from an heir of the composer, and that one claimed that “moral rights” were violated when the original composition had been “mutilated”. He’s not (definitely) just being a baby about it; “Moral rights” is actually a thing when it comes to Egyptian copyrights. I’m not a professional Egyptian copyright lawyer (just an Egyptian copyright law enthusiast), but I think it goes like this: The guy who composed the song passed the rights on to his kids, and they licensed it out for use as is. What they didn’t do, however, is sign over the rights for someone to chop up the music, loop one particular segment and add new lyrics about sitting in a truck while having his genitals fondled by a woman he contacted expressly for said purpose. I don’t know how this is going to be resolved, but I’m pretty sure, legally speaking, it’s all water under the bridge if Jay Z just starts performing “Khosara Khosara” at his concerts instead of “Big Pimpin,” which has now become the thing I want most in life. I can’t begin to imagine how disappointed/confused that audience would be, but please Jay, if you’re reading this, please make it happen. I’ll sign up for Tidal. Seriously.

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