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The Balkans: Online Hit Song Highlights the Diaspora State of Mind

In April, the biggest internet-related music sensation for the people from former Yugoslavia and especially the related diaspora has been the song “Kuća, poso” (Eng. “Home, work”) by the “star of Canada and America” Ekrem Jevrić Gospoda, originally from the Plav-Gusinje region of Montenegro.

Here I live in the City of New York
I live and work, but only work

Home, work
Home, work
Work, home
This is what I know
I know nothing
And where can I know

Oh New York, may darkness kill you
Because you let a woman rule
You contain a whole lotta dogs
A whole lotta concrete
And battalions of women march the streets

But New York become a city of light
Get rid of all the women that work
They lost the children, the greatest treasure
Hey New York, you great city

The official version of the video reached over 1.8 million views on YouTube within a month of its release, with a total of over 2.3 million views together with various duplicate versions and remixes.

In comparison, the official video for the global hit single about New York City, “Empire state of mind”, by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, has generated 39 million views within the 6 months since its release – 7 million per month on average.

Facebook and Twitter users from all ex-Yugoslav countries, including Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia spread the link, turning the song title into a meme. The phrase in the song title is an ordinary colloquialism designating the never-ending routine of daily grind during a life devoid of meaning. Sarajevo group Zabranjeno Pušenje (“No Smoking!” in English) used it in its 1999 song “Pos'o, kuća, birtija” (Eng. “Work, home, pub”) about a gray, wasted life after a lost love.

One could object that the song has misogynist overtones, but it also expresses the existentialist angst felt by nostalgic immigrants or guest workers unaware of Camus or Socrates. During his first concert, the author says that he wrote the song to explain to his people about stuff that the Americans cannot understand.

The unique interpretation style and appearance have incited various types of reactions, from praises to insults, such as comparisons with the howling of the White Fang in a comment to the official video, to labeling him as “The Balkans Borat” in a copy of a video report [CRO] from a live concert in Queens.

There Mr. Jevrić performed as supporting act to lascivious Bosnian turbo-folk star Selma Bajrami. YouTube user MegaMotika said in a comment to this video:

The man is truly a star: not everybody can get 1.5 million views in 15 days. He became popular, and the fact that everyone laughs is another issue. The man is a showman.

This newly acquired fame has provided tangible benefits: that video also documents the receipt of a honorarium in cash. It does not contain a direct statement by the singer – allegedly, he asked for $1000 for an interview. Gospoda’s nickname means “gentry.”

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