View Full Version : Why "Bombs over Baghdad?"

A wizard song for thee
12-22-2003, 12:26 AM
Okay, I love me some OutKast. Really, who doesn't? With the release of Speakerboxxx / The Love Below, though, they made such huge strides that I've even heard rock stations playing "Hey Ya!" So that got me to go back and revisit the biggest musical mystery (to me, at least) of 2000. Why was it "Bombs Over Baghdad?" I'm willing to believe that Andre 3000 and Big Boi can do pretty much anything, but prescience is not something I'd previously ascribed to them. So, well, since it's pretty sure that the song is not about Bush's foreign policy, what is it about?

It starts with Dre, whose message seems to be encapsulated in the last three lines: Thoughts at a thousand miles per hour
Hello, ghetto, let your brain breathe
Believe there's always moreWhich, okay, sure, we're doing, like, a crunk song about livin' in and gettin' out of the ghetto, right? Every rap artist in the world has done these. I can deal with this. But then the chorus hits, and I'm totally thrown:Don't pull your thang out, unless you plan to bang
(Bombs over Baghdad)
Don't even bang unless you plan to hit some thing
(Bombs over Baghdad)Uh, huh? What do bombs and Baghdad have to do with this song? Well, in steps Big Boi, and I vainly hope that he'll shed some light on this song, but he seems more interested in rapping about how great OutKast is (and, really, I agree), which doesn't tell me anything about Baghdad because they are, like he says, straight from the ATL.

Then the chorus hits again, but it's followed by a second hook in which Dre and Big Boi repeat "Bob your head, rag top" and a choir repeats "Power music, electric revival!" which is so completely not something that any other rap artist in the world would consider putting in a song of theirs...

Anyway, so, uh, does anyone have any theories about this song? What is it all about, and what in the world does Baghdad have to do with it?

12-22-2003, 01:23 AM
Originally posted by A wizard song for thee

Anyway, so, uh, does anyone have any theories about this song?

Yes, I do. I theorize that rap music sucks, and calling these morons 'artists' is a slap in the face to true talent.

That is all.

A wizard song for thee
12-22-2003, 01:46 AM
Thanks, that was helpful. Obviously, you've never listened to OutKast, for which you're not to blame. You seem to have some taste, having named yourself after a Tool album. It's just a shame that you would blanket an entire genre of music with an unsupportable opinion. However, please, feel free to completely fail to contribute to a different conversation.

12-22-2003, 01:54 AM
'B.O.B.' is damn catchy, and 'Hey Ya' is doubly so!

12-22-2003, 02:09 AM
Originally posted by Lateralus
Yes, I do. I theorize that rap music sucks, and calling these morons 'artists' is a slap in the face to true talent.

That is all.

How dare you call rap "music". You insult musicians everwhere by using those two words in the same sentance. ;)

gex gex
12-22-2003, 09:11 AM
I've got a Rolling Stone article written about Outkast after Stankonia was released. It's this one (http://www.rollingstone.com/news/newsarticle.asp?nid=12223&cf=6229), but I can't get it to show more than half the article, so you probably won't see the section I'm going to quote. However, this is taken from that article:

The duo recorded [B.O.B.] shortly after completing its last album, the Grammy-nominated Aquemini. The title and hook - "Don't pull the thang, unless you plan to bang/ Don't even bang unless you plan to hit something" - was prompted by the United States' bombing of Iraq. "The US was trying to beat around the bush," Dre says. "We were trying to scare them by bombing the outskirts."

"Cow pastures and milk factories," Big Boi chimes in. "Deoderant stores, stuff like that."

"If you're going to do anything at all," Dre continues, "do it. If you gonna push it, push it."

I'm not sure what the U.S. was doing at the time, but I have some dim memory of some low-key bombing raids on Iraq in the late 90s-early '00s. If so, it appears to be a critique of Clinton policy. Ironically, this year's "shock and awe" seems to be more in line with this interpretation of B.O.B.

Despite this, Outkast were undoubtedly against the Iraq invasion of this year. They signed an ad (http://www.jsonline.com/onwisconsin/music/mar03/122576.asp) petitioning against the war earlier in the year. This page (http://www.musicpundit.com/archives/000432.html) gives us some more insight into the song, quoting an L.A. Times article:

On top of one of the most deliciously dynamic hip-hop beats since Dr. Dre's teaming a decade ago with Tupac Shakur on "California Love," the chorus sounds like an Iraq battle cry: "Bombs over Baghdad / Don't even bang unless you plan to hit something / Bombs over Baghdad."

The problem is Big Boi was strongly opposed to the U.S. invading Iraq without United Nations support and he never intended the song as a pro-war exercise.


[T]he veteran rapper (real name: Antwan Patton) has long understood that artists can't control how the public responds to their work.

"We make a record and then it is up to people to take what they want from it," he said by phone this week from his home base in Atlanta. "We explain a song when people ask, but we can't control how they feel about it.

"In our case, fans know where we stand pretty much. I talk to them in the street all the time. I really think Bush should have gone through the United Nations before going over there. But once the fighting starts, everything changes.

"You have guys over there with families here, and you have to support the troops and pray for them. So, if the song helps them keep their spirits up, I don't have a problem with that."


Big Boi, who is joined in OutKast by Andre 3000 (Andre Benjamin), saw what he felt was half-hearted U.S. bombing raids on Iraq in the 1990s as an analogy for a lack of dedication among many artists in the music business.

"There were lots of people making music, but there was nothing real about it," he says. "We were like saying, make music that has something to say or just get out of the way."

The final quote helps to explain the "Power music/ Electric revival" line, as calling for musical dedication and creativity in the scene.

12-22-2003, 09:29 AM
Because "Bullets over Broadway" was taken.

A wizard song for thee
12-22-2003, 11:25 AM
Huh. Thanks, gex gex! Very informative. I knew that Big Boi, at least, was not a fan of Bush from some of the raps on Speakerboxxx...

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.