It’s always sad to see the originator of a genre fade into obscurity and irrelevance. If they’re lucky, they’ll have made their mark in the mainstream (such as Elvis Presley) but all so often, like a DJ Kool Herc, they never get their chance, swallowed up by the very monster they created. Osama Bin Laden [Myspace] is one of the lucky few who managed to pioneer a genre and yet still achieved significant mainstream successes. Which is why it makes it so hard to say this, but I fear Osama Bin Laden is finished, spent as a creative force.
The latest Osama Bin Laden tape dropped on Wednesday and it is disappointing in every way possible. Bin Laden, 51, is a jihadist version of Robert Pollard. Like Pollard, Bin Laden toiled in amateur obscurity for years while working a day job in a non-traditional breeding ground for talent (Dayton and Saudi Arabia, respectively). Also like Pollard, Bin Laden went from amateur obscurity to amateur stardom to influential professional to irrelevant elder statesman. Both share a love of lo-fi tapes recorded in non-studio locations and were, at least early on, extremely prolific. Sadly, Bin Laden’s material from the ‘90’s and early ‘00’s was far more innovative and of a much higher quality.
Plainly put, Osama Bin Laden has not released an original idea in close to a decade. At one time his rhetoric and lyrics were revolutionary, now they come off as tired and forced. Not only that but offensive. This isn’t the ‘90’s and the degradation of women minorities is just not something we find acceptable here at Radio Exile. Like a rapper stuck in the ‘90’s, Bin Laden seems obsessed with starting new feuds and maintaining old ones. On this new tape we find Bin Laden attempting to bait Joe Biden into a war of words. We also see him still taking shots at still-President Bush, which is like Kanye taking shots at Tupac. It just isn’t needed and feels horribly forced.
No one doubts Osama Bin Laden’s influence and authenticity. Even his most ardent detractors will testify to his authenticity, an authenticity that many others would kill for. But at this point, it’s hard to call Bin Laden anything less than irrelevant. His releases have slowed to a trickle. At one point he was prolific like Robert Pollard but now we find his releases to be as infrequent as Scott Walker’s. I keep coming back to the relevance. No less of an authority than the spokesperson of the National Security Council, Gordon Johndroe, said that this tape demonstrates a “continued attempt to remain relevant”. Mr Johndroe, like this author, is of the opinion that Bin Laden fails at this. It’s been a good career but it’s time for Osama Bin Laden to bow out and let the next generation come into the limelight.