"This is a blessing mashallah wallahi," raps Drake in his remix of Sweeterman, a song originally produced by Canadian Ramriddlz, who is of Egyptian descent.
Needless to say, the Arab/Muslim world lost it at the time of the song's release. But little did they know it wasn't the first time a well-known rapper referenced a popular Arabic phrase in their song. Rap - as an art form and medium of expression - has developed over the decades to include references, people, and traditions belonging to other cultures. (Whether it's cultural appropriation is debatable.)
Here are a few examples of rappers who have mentioned Arabic phrases in their songs:
1. When Drake said "Inshallah" in Diplomatic Immunity
The 31-year-old Canadian singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur used the word inshallah - Arabic for "God Willing" - in his song Diplomatic Immunity. Drake skillfully managed to rhyme the word inshallah with Al Jazeera and Shakira.
Naturally, Muslim women went into a complete meltdown, fangirling over the fact that Drake said one of the most common Arabic words out there.
2. When Nicki Minaj said "Mashallah" in Plain Jane Remix
Mashallah is an Arabic phrase that means "God has willed" and is commonly used to express appreciation of beauty, joy, or being thankful for a situation or blessing ... and boy were people thankful to see Nicki Minaj make use of the phrase.
There are two possible interpretations of what Minaj, a Trinidadian-American rapper, actually meant by integrating the phrase in her song. She either intended to say that if you ride with her, you should be thankful for being in her presence. Or she meant to tell people that riding with her means you're already part of her crew.
In the same song, rapper A$AP Ferg also sings "Ride with the mob, Alhamdulillah." Commenting on his use of the phrase used to thank God, A$AP Ferg said, "I'm not Muslim. My grandfather was Muslim, but I'm not Muslim. It was just another way to say all praise go to god. At the end of the day, there's one God, right? There's one energy."
3. When Frank Ocean said "Allahu Akbar" in Bad Religion
"I said don't curse me," sings Frank Ocean, narrating his encounter with a taxi driver when he says Allahu Akbar. In the song, which is titled Allahu Akbar, it seems as though Ocean is having one of those on-the-road therapy sessions with a complete stranger, except this one is a Muslim taxi driver.
The latter is conversing in Arabic and surprised us with the phrase Allahu Akbar (meaning "God is the greatest"), a common oath used in Islam when thanking God or acknowledging his omnipresence.
"I said it couldn't hurt me," continues Ocean when the taxi driver insists he needs prayer. Ocean is reminded by the driver of the power of God in all religions and the fact that sometimes just acknowledging his greatness puts your small problems in perspective.
4. When Kanye West said "Allahu Akbar" in Heard 'Em Say
Though the connection between Allahu Akbar and the rest of the verse's lyrics isn't so clear, West might be hinting at the corruption some two-faced religious leaders might participate in, like driving nice cars while preaching about being humble and selfless.
5. When Kendrick Lamar said "Praying to Allah" in Blue Faces
Though he didn't technically say a Muslim phrase, a devote Christian mentioning Allah is still worthy of the recognition. The song, titled Blue Faces, focuses on many materialistic issues society faces while talking about the human need to connect to things on a deeper level and being obsessed with making money and the accumulation of it.
Lamar takes a second to reflect on his faith and his belief in a higher power that will save him from these situations that keep calling his name.
6. When Travis Scott said "Allah" in Bad Mood/Shit on You
In the only controversial and irreverent mention of Allah in this article, American rapper Travis Scott equates himself to Mary, Joseph, and Allah, saying he must be all of them because he "makes it rain" money in the song Bad Mood/Shit On You.
The play on words in the second half of the track is a reference to the miracle of rain performed by none other than the higher power, thus the mention of all three figures.
Scott, born Jacques Berman Webster II, is a rapper and producer from Missouri City, Houston who began producing and releasing beats via Myspace when he was just 16. His third studio album ASTROWORLD was "a critical commercial success, selling half a million copies in its first week, and peaking at #1 on the US Billboard 200 chart."
7. When Jay-Z said "Bismillah" in Blue's Freestyle
"Bismillah, all the gods around me," Jay-Z raps in the middle of his song Blue's Freestyle before following it up with a more compact indicator that he's referencing Muslims. "I feel like Ali," he says towards the end of the song.
Bismillah is the transliteration of the Arabic word which in English means "in the name of God" or "in the name of Allah." It is the first word in the Quran and the incipit (the shortened form) of Basmala - a name for the Quran's opening phrase in Arabic - "In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful."
But that wasn't the first time Jay-Z mentions Allah. In Family Feud, another song on the same album, he raps: "I told my wife the spiritual shit really work / Alhamdulillah, I run through 'em all." Jay-Z was referring to the high level of success he achieved earlier in the song, saying there must be someone listening to his prayers, which is why he decided to praise the almighty.