Gadhafi’s Zenga Zenga Hip-Hop Remix

By Daniel Estrin

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has long been known for his flamboyant fashion and rambling rhetoric. But as opposition forces have taken control of much of Libya, Gadhafi’s public appearances have gotten increasingly aggressive and bizarre.

Last week he delivered a nearly hour long speech, replete with fist pounding and threats to clean Libya inch by inch, street by street.

Now a hip-hop remix of the speech has gone viral on the Internet and has become a sort of anthem of the Libyan opposition. And if that alone doesn’t sting Gadhafi, here’s another twist: The DJ who made the song is from Libya’s arch enemy, Israel.

But the video is no Mossad spy operation. It’s the brain-child of 31 year old musician Noy Alooshe.

“This is amazing. I am number 10 most viewed musicians in the world. And number one in Israel. It’s amazing,” Alooshe said.

It was all premeditated. When Egyptians started taking to the streets, Alooshe would sit on his couch in his small Tel Aviv apartment and watch for good clips he could turn into hip-hop mashups.

He watched Mubarak’s televised speeches, but thought they were too monotone. Then Gadhafi gave a quick speech from under an enormous umbrella: Good visuals, but not much else. And then, on the evening news last Tuesday, Alooshe watched Gadhafi’s fiery balcony speech.

“I will call upon millions from desert to desert,” threatened Gadhafi. “We will march to purge Libya inch by inch, house by house, alley by alley.”

Lady Gaga from the Arab world

Alooshe saw the speech, transfixed. “And it was like, before the mixing, it was funny and looks like a parody,” he said. “When he (Gadhafi) raises his hand like he is at a party, and his clothes look like Lady Gaga from the Arab world.”

The Lady Gaga of the Arab world not for his violence towards Libyan protestors, Alooshe said, but for his over the top clothing and his theatrics.

“It was like a dance track,” Alooshe said. “When I first listened to it, zanga zanga, der der, like someone put a tempo and Gadhafi said, zenga zenga. ‘Okay, it’s funny in the first place,’ I thought. ‘Let’s make it more funny. And let’s make it something that people can dance or sing to.’”

And so Zenga Zenga — literally “alley by alley” — was born.

Alooshe mixed the speech with the beat from Hey Baby, the hit song by American hip hop artists Pitbull and T-Pain. He uploaded two versions of the video – one without go-go dancers, for conservative Muslim viewers – and sent the link to Arab websites, including Al-Jazeera’s Facebook page and the Twitter feed of a Libyan youth movement.

Within hours, he says, it was all over the Arab world. Even the official Facebook page of the Libyan opposition reposted the clip.

’Zenga Zenga’ goes viral

All together, Alooshe said about a million viewers have seen it. Not all of them have been happy about it. There have been vigorous debates: “the artist is Israeli,” much of the chatter says, “is it ok to like his video?”

“When some from Arab world found out I am Jewish, some wrote really bad stuff. Death to Jews, death to Israel. But after that I got a lot of good comments,” Alooshe said. “I’m from Egypt, you’re from Israel. I don’t like you, but I like remix.’ Someone from Saudi wrote me, ‘even though I’m a Muslim and you’re a Jew, I really like your mix, and I hope world will be free and there will be peace’”

Now that he’s an Internet sensation, Alooshe’s number one piece of advice to aspiring DJs who want to fuel a national revolution on the internet: don’t wait.

“If you are not the first person to do this stuff, you are gonna lose the game,” said Alooshe. “It was like, with Gaddafi, I’ve gotta mix it right now. I am not going out for a beer with my friends; I am sitting at computer and doing it and uploading it. I was first.”

Alooshe has been spending the last few days granting interview after interview to Israeli and international media. He’s sold the remix to a company that produces cell phone ringtones in Israel.

The young DJ said Gadhafi is obviously a bad guy who has to go — but as an artist, he’s indebted to the dictator for providing great material.


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