‘This is Iraq’ is a hip-hop song performed by 33-year-old rapper I-NZ, whose real name is Majid, who was born in Scotland to Iraqi parents, brought up in New Zealand and currently lives in Dubai. Majid is identified as an Iraqi-Kiwi, which stands for Iraq-New Zealand and is also his hip-hop cognomen.
I-NZ released the dark satire ‘This Is Iraq’ with an accompanying music video on the Fourth of July, more than 15 years following the U.S. military invasion of Iraq and dethroning of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on arsenals of mass destruction indictments that went on to be proved wrong soon after. The song’s lyrics and imagery detail the widely reported U.S. military abuses, violence, the ongoing fatalities and destruction that has ravaged the country in the wake of the 2003 war, swapping Gambino’s takedown of police brutality, race relations and mass shootings for a politically charged assault on a war that continues till today. Guiding Childish Gambino’s legendary ‘This Is America’ smash record, with his own version, I-NZ sought to send a message to the world about what has happened to his home country since the US invasion.
The music video kicks off with a sight of an old man coming to sit on the rug to play the oud (lute) musical instrument and a young man in traditional Iraqi dressing soon joining to watch and listen to him play. Right after, you see two breakdancing armed US soldiers come, where now the young man is in an orange jumpsuit, which is often seen being worn by U.S. prisoners of war, and they force the prisoner to shoot the musician. The rapper is yanked off to the next scene but, at the same time in effect, is portraying the maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers. I-NZ then breaks into the lyrics of his own song and dances over the background of escaping Iraqis being opened fire at and captured by the US soldiers.
The scenes that follow are reminiscent of the scandalous pictures leaked in 2004 from the Abu Ghraib detention facility, where Iraqi detainees were brutalised and sexually molested. In the music video, the armed U.S. soldiers are displayed bumping their fists with masked radicals who then continue to capture and murder Iraqis on their behalf in theory. In the meantime, a female soldier in the backdrop is seen snapping selfies with a hooded, electrode-wired inmate being enforced to pose for it.
What is more, there is also a display of scenes from the Abu Ghraib Prison, together with the disturbing physical and psychological abuse doled out against the prisoners of Iraq with a background scene of some kneeling during, what appears to be, instantaneous executions.
Former President of the US, George W. Bush, is also seen as a part in the music video, where a masked man appears announcing “mission accomplished”—in reference to the Bush speech announcing the conclusion of major battle operations in Iraq.
With the lines: “They’re immune, this is telly, that’s the news, media blackout, then it’s lights out, keep sniffin’ the tar,” I-NZ also emphasises the impunity of foreign militaries and fraudulent residents in Iraq.
The song also includes a disclaimer: “This video is a representation of Iraq’s reality over the past 15 years and does not support, promote, nor condone violence in any shape or form,”. It is performed in English, excluding a few lines that were in Arabic: “This is Iraq. Your start is the end of you. Your passport will finish you. Still be careful though, don’t mess up.”
Some of the footages throughout the music video are displaying the inhumane violence of the US in a disturbing and appalling truth, with references like rape and brutality and showing hooded parents and children contained by barbed wires and frightening gunmen.
In the last shot of the music video, an old Iraqi man is seen standing beside a huge sea of blood, reading from the late renowned poet Badr Shakir Al Sayyab and concentrating versus of “The River and The Death” passages.
‘This Is Iraq’ has already been watched by more than a million people in less than a month after its publication on YouTube. As said by I-NZ, he is a big fan of Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ and the truth he managed to send out to the world. He said that if his music video can have a positive impact on just one person, then he will feel vindicated in having gone ahead with it. People from all around the world are sending him tremendously strong, loving and positive responses on his enlightening music video and on the web of social media, with numerous also calling on other countries to produce more parodies of ‘This Is America’.
“What made the reality of war hit me on an extreme emotional level were the iconic images that were published during and after the war. We attempted to bring a few of these images back to life in the music video,” I-NZ said. “It just goes to show you the painful and disturbing reality of war.”
War is the most primitive thing in the world for mankind. We may always try to prevent it from happening, somewhere in our world, but the reality is that: sometimes, language and love will fail. What would matter then is not the victor but the ones who lost. After all, only the loser and the dead have seen the end of the war.