And for the sticklers, I”m aware that the actual lyric goes, “…dumb rappers need teaching/lesson A (don’t f*ck with B.I.)…”
Many moons ago, Chuck D likened hip-hop to the Black CNN. In his estimation, there was a time when hip-hop was largely reporting the thoughts, situations, and circumstances of the inner city. Well, times they are a changin’. Most rappers today, and specifically mainstream rappers are doing as much glorifying of those circumstances under the guise of “telling it like it is” as they are lying about the fact that most of them haven’t done or been apart of 90 percent of the non-sense they’re rapping about.
Which is why, understandably, when we get rappers who seem to not only read, but are able to articulate their societal views and sometimes revolutionary rhetoric into lyric form, we all exhale. Nas’ Illmatic is a poetic masterpiece even if its proprietor is about as articulate as a 3-year old explaining quantum physics when it comes to defending any stance he may or may not have taken in rhyme form. Oh well, it isn’t like they get called out on much of what they say anyway. Only a select few rappers get asked their true opinions on anything in an arena where actual pundits, wonks, and analysts get the chance to debate back and forth. That list generally includes…well…Lupe Fiasco.
I’ve made my opinions on Lupe Fiasco pretty clear. I’m not a fan. Dude is the posterchild for unrealized potential. He’s the 2000s version of Canibus. All of the lyrical ability in the world without the ability (it seems) to get those incredible thoughts out in a cogent and coherent fashion. He’s all flashes of brilliance and unfinished concepts. Yet somehow, people seem to think that young Wasalu is some sort of political activist or “intellectual” along the lines of Cornel West or Micheal Eric Dyson (two brothers I’m not fans of either).
I guess I hate everybody. So everybody wins.
I can’t tell you how many random interviews I’ve seen where Lupe has been asked his opinion because of how well he puts verses together. I guess it makes sense. If you can write that well, you should be able to transfer that intelligence into spoken word. Fair enough. And he’s not inarticulate. He’s just not as quick on his feet as he is when he’s got hours and months to write a verse.
You know where I’m going with this. In his song, “Words I Never Said” he calls Obama a terrorist (as well as the entire American government) then goes on Bill O’Reilly to defend his position and states some mumbo jumbo about US foreign policy motivating terrorism, states that all presidents are terrorists, etc. Admittedly, the O’Reilly Factor’s editors had a field day with the tape so who knows what may or may not have been said between the cuts.
Here’s the point though: A lot of folks were up in arms at this non-voting armchair politician but some people came to Lupe’s defense with his statement about Obama and US foreign policy being at fault for terrorist acts. Except much like Lupe, 90 percent of people sounded like conspiracy theorists with completely unsubstantiated claims. Most people were basically pissing in the wind. But some good points were brought up, namely, we’re only mad because it’s Obama he’s talking about.
If somebody said that about Bush, nobody would question it. True. And you know what, that’s also idiotic. In Jadakiss’s song “Why” he says, “why did Bush knock down the towers?” and folks were all like, “yeah…why DID Bush knock down the towers?”
And you know what? That was stupid too. I remember Jadakiss got some kind of recognition as being a thinking man’s rapper after that and when folks asked him about it he sounded like a dolt stammering his way through his times tables trying to defend what was a ridiculous statement to begin with. The only difference in the two situations is that 1) all Black folks basically hated Bush anyway so nobody was really going to question that; and 2) nobody outside of the hood cares about what Jadakiss has to say about anything that affects our lives. Somehow Lupe gets placed into this thinking man’s realm and media outlets reach out to him for his opinion on real sh*t despite the fact that I’m fairly certain nothing he’s ever rapped about has transcended the world of conjecture and random musings. But he’s a rapper…that’s rapper sh*t. Which is all well and good…until we get called out on it.
This really isn’t even all about Lupe. Any number of so-called “conscious” rappers generally are as misinformed and uneducated about any number of things once they get past generalities and vagueness.
I don’t even know if these rappers hold themselves to the same standards we hold them too. I’m sure Lupe thinks he can hang with the Sean Hannity’s and Keith Olbermann’s of the world, but learned professors can’t even hang. But these ninjas don’t learn. Maybe that’s our fault for blowing rainbows up their arses. Pun. Pause. 20 Seconds.
In fact, the only rappers I’ve ever really seen hold their own in policy matters have been Ludacris, KRS-One, Chuck D, 50 Cent, Bun B and ironically Cam’ron until the “no snitching” scandal. I’ll stop here, but I wonder…
…do we hold our conscious rappers to too high a standard? Or do we have any real expectations from them outside of rapping that differs from what we expect from the Rick Ross’s and Lil Waynes of the world?
Basically, do you think that the rappers we label as being smart from an intellectual framework are actually…smart?
–VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka YOUNG P DA FLY THIEF aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3