Monday, December 24, 2007
Everlast's "Letters Home from the Garden of Stone"
I learned about this song and video from the invaluable KABOBfest, who kufiyaspotted Everlast. (It would appear that I'm involved in some sort of kufiyaspotting contest with my kabob comrades!) But this cannot count as a kufiyaspotting for me, since I've already 'spotted' Everlast, who logged in at #13. Thanks to the KABOBers for turning me on to a great anti-war song, one of the best I've heard. Everlast sings from the position of a soldier fighting in Iraq, raising questions about the rightfulness of what he's doing. The song and video manage to raise sympathy both for US soldiers who are dying as well as for the Iraqi civilians. The video in particular makes clear that Iraqi civilian casualties are much higher; it shows a billboard that says, "684,000 Iraqi civilians killed since 2003," as well as images of wounded Iraqi civilians and one horrific image of a dead, burned corpse--the kind of picture our US media does its best to keep out of public view.
And I quite like this chorus:
Cuz I don’t know these men who kill me
And I don’t know these men I kill
Maybe I’ll wind up on the same side
Can’t see none of us doin’ God’s will
But here's the thing about the video that is wild. For about half the vid, Everlast is shown, wearing a kufiya, playing guitar or walking around in a cemetery. There are a couple closeups of statues of Jesus and a number of closeups of the Virgin Mary. Then, for a few moments, we see Everlast assuming the position of prayer. And if you recognize these things, it's clear that he's performing Muslim prayer. Nothing in the lyrics give this away, but it is well known in rap circles that Everlast converted to Islam in 1996. According to Everlast, it was in part due to the influence of rapper Divine Styler, when he was making his transition from the Five Percenters to Orthodox ("Sunni") Islam.
And there's nothing inherently un-Islamic about doing Muslim prayers in a cemetery, nearby statues of Jesus and Mary. For Muslims, Jesus is revered as a prophet (but is not regarded as the son of God). Muslims also honor Mary ("Maryam") and believe in the virgin birth (but not Jesus' divinity).
Everlast has come a long way since House of Pain and "Jump Around."