Lupe’s Fiasco: Why context is everything

Jun 13, 2011 @ 11:03 am | By TheFeministGriote | 3 Comments

The hipster Chicago rapper could sleep easy at night knowing he would never get a White House invitation of any sort. Lupe Fiasco had some choice words for the ‘the head Negro in charge.’ In an interview last week Lupe managed to eclipse the ever so famous comments made by fellow Chicago rapper Kanye West, “George Bush hates Black people,” and make that comment seem pretty politically correct. Lupe said this about President Obama:

“In my fight against terrorism, to me, the biggest terrorist is Obama in the United States of America,” Fiasco said in an interview. “For me, I’m trying to fight the terrorism that’s actually causing the other forms of terrorism. The root cause of the terrorism is the stuff that you as a government allow to happen and the foreign policies that we have in place in different countries that inspire people to become terrorists. And it’s easy for us because it’s really just some oil, which we can really get on our own.” (CBS News)

Lupe also took the timeout to further educate us on why he doesn’t vote:

“I don’t vote. I don’t get involved in the political process because it’s meaningless, to be honest,” Fiasco added. “I’m a real big believer if I’m gonna vouch for someone, then I’m gonna stand behind everything that they do…So politicians aren’t gonna do that because I don’t want you to bomb some village in the middle of nowhere.” (CBS News)

I take serious umbrage with what Lupe stated and not because I am ultra patriotic or an Obama stan my reason for disagreeing with Lupe is because he failed to contextualize his statement and articulate his points. What is the “stuff” that makes Obama alone a terrorist? It almost sounds like Lupe has been studying at the feet of Cornel West who is also a huge Obama critic. It appears to me that Lupe is choosing to focus solely on Obama and to my knowledge Obama is not a monarch and neither is he a dictator. Meaning President Obama is not the progenitor of all that is wrong within America and as an ultra liberal I am not quick to label George W. Bush the root cause either. It is true that Obama inherited some very insurmountable circumstances and he would rather reach across the aisle than be forceful, but too me that is a huge change from the previous commander in chief. Every president inherits an issue and must govern accordingly with those issues.

The office of the President’s main duty is to keep America solvent and promote America’s agenda worldwide whatever works for America is what will get done period end of story. I agree that America has some very shady questionable foreign policies. As a Haitian-American I know all to well what America’s foreign agenda can do to a country and I would never excuse America, but to call Obama a terrorist is a hyperbole of epic enormity. If you are going to call out one man and point him out as the bad guy then you need to build a case so that we thinking rationale people can understand the logic a less than six minute video is not sufficient. Obama is the figure head of the United States he does not act alone. By singling Obama out it seems that the critique is personal which makes the argument ineffective.

If Lupe wants to become a trending topic, become fodder for FOX news, and be reduced to sound bites that is his prerogative, but what really angered me about Lupe’s comment was the blase´ attitude regarding not participating in the democratic process. Election 2012 is around the corner and once again the stakes are high. According to the 2008 census only 64% of voting age citizens voted. That is a low number in my opinion. I understand that young people and Black/brown people have a personal beef with voting, but Black and brown people are the ones who suffer severely when discriminatory laws are passed or when key social programs are cut. People who don’t vote scare me and the reason they scare me is because they can never provide an alternative for not voting. I understand that people do not feel their vote counts when it comes to the presidential election and I will afford you that argument, but what about local elections? Your Congressman/woman, Representative, Mayor,State Attorney etc play a  far more crucial role in your everyday life.

Democracy can only work if we the people work it! I think its very easy and cowardly to call the government and all elected or appointed officials corrupt and blame them for the problems, but if we are all honest with ourselves  a government is only as corrupt as its people allow it to be. In other words not caring and not voting does not absolve you from not participating in the sins of said corrupt government. We the people outnumber our elected officials if we disagree with how they spend, govern, and enforce the American agenda globally then simply vote them out, call them, write them, show up on the hill but to just simply chose to not participate is dangerous. Since the GOP regained control of the house they have made it a point to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, legislate morality, and redefine what is rape. Women makeup over 50% of the population, but we are still considered a minority because ‘boys run the world.’ As a Black woman keeping quiet and not participating in the democratic process is a luxury I and my ovaries can not afford.  As a college educated person who is unemployed apathy will not pay my student loans. Most importantly, I believe that all human beings  matter not just rich ones and I want more social programs so not voting is a choice I can’t and will not ever exercise!

It is easy for Lupe to take an ‘anarchist eff the system’ stance after all he is rich. His money may not be as long as Jay-Z, but I doubt seriously that Lupe lives in the hood or has to resort to eating ramen noodles.If Lupe ever gets tired of America and its corruptness he can defect to another country. The majority of Lupe’s fans still have to count on the government and what it provides and therefore he needs to be ever so mindful how he addresses his fans who are not of the same socio-economic strata as himself. When Atlantic records was refusing to release Lupe’s latest album “Lasers” he took to his twitter page and pretty much encouraged his 650,000+ followers to demand his product, a product that he has admittedly in the press stated that he is not proud of the end result. His fans picketed in front of Atlantic records and circulated an online petition which forced the record company to release the product. That seems like democracy in action to me. The people spoke they galvanized themselves and got what they wanted. If it can work in entertainment surely it can work in politics. For a man who touts himself on being a different kind of a man it seems to me that he too has acquiesced to the pressures of the big business aka Atlantic records. If Lupe can stand behind his mediocre album and ask his fans to protest on his behalf to get his lackluster album out then how are you so different from a politician? Obviously supporting a crappy album will not endanger women and children in a far off remote country, but the principle is the same. It appears that Lupe like the President of the United States was forced to compromise far more than he originally expected to.

I believe in free speech and I most certainly believe that nothing or no one is above critical analysis, but there is a reason why you can’t scream fire in a crowded theater because its reckless!

What do you think? Discuss…

Categories: Mind Over Chatter

3 Responses to “ Lupe’s Fiasco: Why context is everything ”

  1. Representative Democracy is neither.

  2. Great post. I like the fact that you have not just dismissed Lupe to be a ‘dumbass’ but rather you have provided a counter argument.

    On calling Obama the biggest terrorist, have you done the math on how many innocent civilians have died at the hands of American forces during his time? Obama is not an necessarily a bad person or sinister but it is the fact that he works within a system that is of itself designed to terrorise the majority (worldwide. You are right he is not singly to blame for that but he is currently the face of American policies both internally and internationally. And if he is to take credit for the good that he has done, he is to take equal blame for the terror and other shortcomings during his time.
    America is a corporation and he is the CEO. Tell a head of any organization in the world whose surbodinates have raked up more civilian deaths that Obama over the last 3 years.

    Yes, context is everything but its easy to say that if you you have never experienced a cluster bomb.

    Secondly, on not voting: You emphasize the role of participation of the populas in this thing we call democracy. However, name me a mainstream rapper or young artists that has done more than Lupe to get the youth to become polically active “If you don’t become an actor you will never be a factor” (Words I Never Said), he runs a book club, a foundation targeting youth literracy and social action.

    Lastly, you can point a finger at Lupe having to compromise to get his Lasers album out but you cannot deny that this his most direct and politically charged Album. He may have compromised with the music but certainly not the message and I’m sure that the one think he is happy about. For heavensake, he even wrote up a Manifesto of Laser.

    Conclusion: Lupe, just like you is all for political action and involvement but he is also clear that the root problem is system itself. A problem voting is not going to solve. Not voting does is a substitute for political activity. I believe simply voting in a rigged system is a sign of polical inactivity.

    PS: He further clarifies in this interview: http://www.billboard.com/column/the-juice/lupe-fiasco-on-calling-obama-a-terrorist-1005222162.story

  3. I’ve talked about this with a friend before – about how people don’t participate in local elections, and then wonder why the House and the Senate don’t support their agendas. People feel that the President has the power of a god, or dictator, and this is probably the fault of the media. We see a lot of Obama (or any president for that matter), so it becomes this fixation. Personally, I’m against this trend of treating Obama like he’s some celebrity. He’s the president of the United States, not a pop star. I wish people could focus on the bigger issues at hand.

    Which I think is the place that Lupe comes from. He comes from class privilege, so he’s not subject to the same ails of the less economically advantaged. And like most celebrities, he doesn’t seem to be well educated on the subject – at least from what you’ve posted here, that’s what I’ve gathered. And being famous, outspoken and ill-informed is a horrible concoction since people will probably think that he’s right.

    It’s difficult to get people to vote because by the time the presidential election rolls around, it’s already too late. The president is like the last piece of the democratic puzzle. But I believe that education is a problem, because people feel that the time and energy (and interest) simply isn’t there. The media (ie the news) feeds us so much of the information, that it is seriously overwhelming to the point where many people have proudly proclaimed how much they’re not going to watch the news. It’s an entanglement of problems that Lupe is little more than a product of.

    And I find it frustrating how Bush was in office for 8 years and no one really complained until AFTER he left, but now everyone is bitching about Obama every step of the way. Very annoying.

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