RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- In Saudi Arabia's music shops, where employees are always careful to protect this country's Moslem values by blacking out bare legs and cleavage on Western album covers, the biggest seller is one of America's raunchiest groups.
2 Live Crew's "As Nasty As They Wanna Be," rap music so explicit that last fall a federal judge in Florida declared the album obscene, is selling off the shelves.
To be sure, someone has touched up the photo on the cover.
But no one has suggested that its sensational tracks shouldn't be heard in the capital of the Saudi kingdom.
And they do. By the hundreds, according to salesmen at several music shops in both Riyadh and Al-Khobar in the Eastern Province, who report that rap music, particularly 2 Live Crew, is hot.
"A lot of the Americans, they come in and buy it," says a clerk at Riyadh's branch of the 747 Record Shop. "Many of the Arabic people like it too. But I don't really think they understand the words."
But the recordings won't be on sale for long at the 747 Record shop chain. Its owner said in a telephone interview that he had just stopped ordering 2 Live Crew recordings.
"This is something that can cause big trouble for me," said Bakor Bagdadi. "I only just recently realized what the words said."