Who is Ali Baba Abnormal? The cover to his mixtape won’t give you much insight as it features pictures of other people. People I feel I should probably be able to recognize, but unfortunately I remain out of touch with the middle east region. It is clear from the artwork that Ali Baba is repping the mid-east and given his name it is clear that he pokes fun at the stereotypes people have developed. Visit his myspace and you will see he even had a track on the “Getting Arab Money” mixtape featuring nothing but Arab rappers who decided to take the free publicity from Busta’s ignorant song. “Vol. 1: House of Baba” as far as I can tell is his first mixtape and it gets one’s attention with an MC Lyte feature. Lyte doesn’t usually jump on a track with just anyone, so that is definitely a good sign.
I won’t front, I skipped straight to the MC Lyte track “Dr. X” and was instantly disappointed. Ali Baba gets hooked up with a boring beat with little but pianos in the background. His rhymes are focused on his clothes and style. MC Lyte also focuses her verse on clothing and overall it is bland, unoriginal song. The remainder of the mixtape showcases a rapper who plays more off of a gimmick than actual skills. On “Sushi Chef Pt. 1” he flexes his best lyrical skills:
“Since the Atkins diet, the streets been quiet
Sushi chef, west coast, 105.9 its
Sake bombs, hard rhymes, yellowtail half price
Felle Fel on the mic, 7-12 midnight
I got California rolls with that blowfish, toxic
Custom made chop sticks, been had it locked kid
8 O’Clock roll call, what’s happening?
I put soy sauce on a wack emcee like Salmon
Steamed rice, grilled ahi shrimp roll
More wasabi ginger root, cold sake spilled, whoops!
Take that! Left messy place mat
Chill grasshopper, relax!”
Ali Baba really isn’t all that unique on the mic and mostly relies on a certain flare and confidence with his rhymes to try to stand apart. At times he shows signs of life such as on “The Fiddler’s Green” where his verse is a bit more lyrical and intense. Other times it feels like he relies too much on the Arabic gimmick and shock music to try to get noticed. The album is riddled with little skits and sound bites that play off what one might expect if you let stereotypes take over. “Big Black Bag Pack” is especially forgettable as Ali Baba and Vicious play off violence and fear with little skill. For the most part it feels like Ali Baba is content playing off his gimmick instead of focusing on showcasing his skills. “Like A Shiek” has a decent beat but the hook and Ali Baba pleading “where my pita bread and hummus at” makes the track descend into shtick.
I’m usually all for diversity and a different perspective in the rap game, but for now Ali Baba ends up in the same category as Chingo Bling and Haji Springer â€“ mere caricatures of the culture they claim to represent. Sure, there might be some humor I refuse to see, but the bigger problem is the lack of focus on the emcee. If I want to laugh, I watch a comedian. I pick up a rap CD for raps and Ali Baba’s don’t rise above the average. The beats tend to remain at the same level as well, with none that really stand out as either good or bad. The CD is riddled with a female voice putting an Arab twist on common hip-hop slang that just comes off as offensive to me. “All Day Sharmutas” and “Yallah Back” might be funny to outsiders poking fun at the hip-hop culture, but they come of sounding like the ramblings of a poser. Overall, I’d say to wait for someone else to take the lead in the Arabic rap movement. Ali Baba has some talent, good flow, decent beats, but his constant gimmick detracts from the overall product.