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Recently, Lupe Fiasco took to Twitter to (what else) rant about a few things. “Violent music (and all violent media) effectively says its ‘OK’ to be violent. It provides positive reinforcement for negative actions,” Lupe said in a tweet. “If you rap and make violent music then own up to it. Stop hiding behind ‘art imitating life’ as a way to evade the guilt.” Lupe is one of hip-hop’s greatest Rant Artists so at this point nobody is shocked by what he’s saying. His tweets this time may even give you a little déjà vu because he went off on a similar tangent during a live performance a few weeks ago.
Lupe always has a lot on his mind. I did a search for his name on three different hip-hop related websites and each came back with dozens of hits. Oh so Lupe is beefing with his label. Lupe is retiring. Lupe is pushing his album back. Lupe is beefing with Pete Rock. Lupe doesn’t like “Birthday Song”. Lupe squashed the beef with Pete Rock. Lupe is scared of Chief Keef. Lupe is so scared of Chief Keef that he backed off of earlier comments saying Chief Keef was scary. Lupe is dissing on Obama on a record. Now Lupe is ranting against Obama on stage. Lupe says 97% of rap is weak. Lupe changed the name of his album again.
Nope I didn’t make any of the previous paragraph up. All of those are ripped from real headlines. Some of you have been fooled. Some of you don’t realize what is going on. Lupe Fiasco is an evil genius. We might be fooled into thinking that Mr. Fiasco has some guiding principles that the rest of the hip-hop community doesn’t possess. Isn’t he the last bastion of conscious rap? He’s reinvented himself as some tortured militant soul, a provocateur of Sinead O’Connor proportions (I would love to see him rip up a picture of the pope on SNL). When he first came out though he was the nerd with the song about skateboarders who liked obscure Japanese denim and handheld Nintendo gaming consoles. I have to be honest I kind of miss the nerd.
But let’s not take anything away from Lupe. No other emcee understands his place in the game better. If you saw the one area of hip-hop that was under-served and they gave you a platform to serve it why wouldn’t you. There was a time when mainstream hip-hop was more diverse. Today all the major artists have pretty much taken the same position. By painting himself as the antithesis of this he can appease those who are fed up with the status quo. Sorry to say but among mainstream hip-hop the status quo is drugs, violence, and misogyny. How Lupe actually feels about the things he says is irrelevant. It’s important for him to say those things for the simple fact that nobody else with as high a profile as he has is saying it.
I definitely don’t agree with everything that comes out of his mouth. And yes I don’t think his motives are 100 percent altruistic. He cares about his fans sure. But Rick Ross cares about his fans too. He rants against violence but doesn’t think twice about collaborating with the emcees that espouse that lifestyle. He saw the way hip-hop elevated Obama to Sainthood and decided to do the opposite. So props for being a great self-promoter are in order.
I would say the only problem with ranting is the limited appeal of a rant. When Lupe goes off on Twitter or on stage or in an interview there are certain subset of people that are going to agree with him wholeheartedly. But as I’ve learned from experience you don’t win any new people with a rant no matter how right you are. There’s a reason why someone like Killer Mike who raps about politics, history and religious themes can be seen as “one of us” by those associated with the street culture and Lupe is seen as a loud mouth blowhard. But then again Lupe sells more records and at the end of the day that’s all he’s really trying to do.