Dubai rapper I-NZ’s Childish Gambino remake ‘This is Iraq’ goes viral

Dubai rapper I-NZ’s Childish Gambino remake ‘This is Iraq’ goes viral
A still from I-NZ’s ‘This is Iraq’ video, based on the single-shot viral hit ‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino. (Via YouTube)
Updated 27 July 2018

Dubai rapper I-NZ’s Childish Gambino remake ‘This is Iraq’ goes viral

Dubai rapper I-NZ’s Childish Gambino remake ‘This is Iraq’ goes viral

DUBAI: When US rapper Childish Gambino released his politically charged anthem “This is America” in May, it quickly went viral. As of this week, the remarkable single-shot video has racked up nearly 350 million views.
Inspired by its impact, Dubai-based rapper I-NZ decided to create his own version, reflecting on the hardships of his home country. Released earlier this month, “This is Iraq” has garnered over 1.7 million views — and plenty of global attention for its creator.
“The minute I heard the original, I knew I just had to remake it for Iraq,” says the 33-year-old Iraqi-New Zealander. “Political tracks rarely gain the kind of popularity that ‘This is America’ did. It presented a great opportunity to use the platform to get a message across about Iraq, which otherwise would have never gained the kind of exposure it’s currently gaining.”
Born in Scotland to Iraqi parents — a “household of lawyers with a deep interest in politics” — and brought up in New Zealand, I-NZ explains that it took just under three weeks to put the song and the video together.
“We needed it released while the original track was still trending. It only took three days before the track was written and recorded,” he says. “The remaining time revolved around getting the video sorted from creative to execution.”
I-NZ says feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I realized that releasing a track on a controversial topic might attract criticism, so I had to maintain a degree of thick skin,” he states. “I’ve stopped reading every comment, but I did notice a few criticizing me for making a video about Iraq without having ever lived there.
“I’d like to mention that I represent a large percentage of Iraqis who live abroad as a consequence of what has happened there over the past couple of decades. Ultimately, my music speaks for all Iraqis, living in and out of Iraq.”
He adds that although Childish Gambino hasn’t — as far as he is aware — seen his version, he “would love to see his reaction to it.” And I-NZ stresses he is not benefitting financially from the project.
“I reached out to the record label for permission (to use the track), but they never got back to me,” he says. “I don’t believe that any of the other remakes have obtained permission either. I have not monetized my remake at all.”
Ultimately, he says he would like to see Iraq “return to its past glory. I’d like Iraqis to unite against corruption, greed, violence and international interference in order to pursue peace and hope for a brighter future.”
For now, though, he is happy with the result of his latest work.
“If I can have a positive impact on just one person, then my recent release has served its purpose.”