02/08/2006 12:23 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Arab Hip-Hop

Whatever else you say about the Arabs, they sure know how to make hip-hop videos. Sitting in a hookah bar in Washington DC, I spent a few hours recently watching Arab language hip-hop videos collected from the bar's satillite dish.

It was sort of like BET meets PBS. There were lots of guys in below-the-knee pants, and of course, plenty of bling. From shots of Cadillac grills to dancers wearing faux platinum medallions the size of cruise ship anchors, Arab videographers have learned well the lessons of Michael Nesmith and 50 Cent. Their videos have most of the right stuff to score with American hip-hop fans, but Arab hip-hop videos lack misogyny. Not only are women not refered to as "ho's," but they don't act like them either. There were plenty of attractive women, but the ones I saw showed way less skin than their US cousins. Arab hip-hop artists treat women more as objects of romantic fantasy rather than turgid desire. Arab hip-hopper show all the rage testosteronic boys, but their fury is aimed less at women than at Israel.

Now I'm not morphing into Tipper Gore-- I like Al, but not that way. And I'm really glad America's hip-hoppers are free to express their whole selves, including their anger at women. I'm not saying we should bop like the Egyptians, but wouldn't it be cool to see a video where Snoop Dog embraced a hookah rather than a joint and danced with a woman whom it looked like he loved?