Perhaps this theory, which I am uniquely equipped to present, is a stretch. But when taken together, the evidence is compelling. Let’s review:
The twins’ names
Bequeathing a name to your progeny will always be a big deal. But when it’s a celebrity’s baby, it takes on a wider cultural impact, sparking debates and trends and plenty of jokes. Who among us hasn’t scratched our heads at some of the odd, seemingly made-up baby names that celebrities apparently think their kids can get away with? (Apple? Pilot Inspektor? Okay!)
But don’t you dare do that with the twins of Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The couple has not officially announced the birth of their twins (TMZ, CNN and others have cited unnamed sources in confirming the news), but they may have settled on names: Rumi and Sir.
The same company that filed paperwork to register a trademark for their firstborn, Blue Ivy, has registered ones for Rumi and Sir Carter — news first reported by TMZ and subsequently confirmed by E! and USA Today.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Persian poetry (or haven’t attended a yoga class or wedding ceremony lately), Rumi is how most folks refer to the 13th century Persian poet, Jalal al-Din Rumi, a Sufi master (Sufism is a mystical strain within Islam). TMZ highlighted one of his poems as the inspiration behind the name “Sir.”
Bring the pure wine of
love and freedom.
But sir, a tornado is coming.
More wine, we’ll teach this storm
A thing or two about whirling.
Poetry is a big deal for Persians. These are people who crack open a book at random and read aloud a line as if it’s a fortune, who recite prose at family get-togethers. President Barack Obama quoted some of Rumi’s fellow mystic poets, Hafez and Saadi, in his annual Persian new year message for a reason. Giving your kids poetic names is an extremely Persian thing to do.
Jay-Z dropped his new solo album “4:44” last week. I’d like to highlight verse two from track nine, “Marcy Me.”
Streets is my artery, the vein of my existence
I’m the Gotham City heartbeat
I started in lobbies, now parley with Saudis
Sufi to the goofies, I could probably speak Farsi
That’s poetry, read a coca leaf from my past
Came through the bushes smellin’ like roses
I need a trophy just for that
Okay, so Jay-Z references Sufi poetry, which again, Rumi et al. But he also raps the word “Farsi,” which is next level — he does not say “Persian,” which is usually how people refer to the language when speaking English.
Oh, and that reading the coca leaves from his past thing references his drug-dealing days, but I’m going to mark a half-point here because it’s a play on reading tea leaves (tea is also a hugely important aspect in Persian culture, and reading leaves is kind of a thing). The “came through the buses smellin’ like roses” line is a likely a play on the “come up smelling like roses” idiom, but I’m marking it down, too, because Persians love roses so much that they put rosewater in all of their desserts.
Beyoncé’s wedding anniversary playlist
Earlier this year, Beyoncé released a Tidal playlist, “IV EVER EVER,” to mark the couple’s ninth wedding anniversary. The 65 tracks range from Stevie Wonder to Donny Hathaway to Nina Simone.
But one of the handful of foreign-language tunes is Googoosh’s “Talagh.” (Hat-tip to @mxhrxd for this eagle-eyed observation.)
Googoosh is, you guessed it, a Persian singer. But not just any ol’ singer. She is the Barbra Streisand, the Madonna, the — well, Beyoncé — of Persian music. And if you were going to include just one Persian track on a playlist, the most fitting choice is a Googoosh one.
Who tipped Beyoncé off to the worthiness of the Persian diva? Who are the Persian friends influencing her? Could it be actress Yara Shahidi, who has modeled for the Ivy Park fashion line?
I’d just like to point out that it’s quite common on older Persian music albums to have pauses in between songs where some lady softly recites a poem — which is ALSO SOMETHING Beyoncé did on her visual album, “Lemonade.”
Okay, that one is a total stretch, but as any good Persian American would do, I will gladly claim some kind of credit for the culture influencing a contemporary milestone.