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  • Lupe Fiasco: The Last Conscious Rapper

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    The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com

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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.

    [ALSO READ: Lupe Fiasco Takes To Twitter To Address Violence In Rap Music]

    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.

    [ALSO READ: Hip-Hop Rumors: Chief Keef Threatens Lupe And Lupe Replies!]

    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.

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    E. Knight lives in Philadelphia. Check out his blog boxingwithgod.com. Read more of his AHH Blogs HERE

     

  • Is Beyoncé Bad For Women?

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    The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com

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    B. Carter released a new track this week that set the twitterverse a tizzy. The song “Bow Down” was somewhat of a departure from the noble female empowerment image that has been a staple of her career in recent years. Her frequent and liberal use of the word “bitch” offended some. Also many felt the aggressive nature of the track and the message of basically “All Hail Queen Beyoncé”. Now everyone from Keyshia Cole (who admittedly has her own ax to grind with B) to Rush Limbaugh has an opinion.

    But can we validate the premise of the argument of her detractors for a second? Beyoncé has become a pop phenomenon. And she has many many hits throughout her storied career dating back to Destiny Child’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills” ( a song by four teenage girls mocking a man for trying to date them without being able to support them financially), to “Crazy in Love” to “Irreplaceable”. There’s probably too many to name. The argument that “Bow Down” is a deviation from her pro woman agenda is “technically” valid. If you want to assert that the content of her songs was the driving force of her image.

    “Bow Down” is offensive to some because it implies that she is somehow above other women. It’s not a particularly positive message from that perspective. And of course if I saw things from that perspective I wouldn’t be wasting my time writing this because you have all heard that argument since Monday. The honest truth is this: Beyoncé is as much of an icon as her husband. Jay-Z’s lyrical content full of unrepentant criminal violence, unchecked egotism, blatant materialism, misogyny and debauchery do absolutely nothing to damage his status as an icon. So why should Beyoncé stating her true beliefs that she is above and beyond others in her field damage her image at all?

    [ALSO READ: WOW! Rush Limbaugh Puts Beyoncé Down Over “Bow Down"]

    When you are an icon the content of your work matters less and less. Want proof? How many of you have actually watched an Elizabeth Taylor movie or listened to a Cher album? But they’re icons right. When was the last time you sat down to watch an episode of The Simpsons? (Sometime in the late 90’s right) Still the show is iconic. Beyoncé is such a great singer, dancer and entertainer that we instantly forgive her failures. No one talks about her god awful acting in that Austin Powers movie. Clips of her or any of her Destiny’s Child’s sisters tripping and falling on stage are viewed once or twice (or sometimes for hours in a continuous loop), laughed at and instantly dismissed. Being an Icon doesn’t mean being infallible. It does mean being loved and accepted by an extremely passionate fan base “Flaws and All” (see what I did there).

    Honestly, I don’t find anything particularly feminist about the content of her music in the first place. It’s mostly standard chick R&B stuff, relationship crap and some dance music thrown in for good measure. Her iconic status has always been about her ability to do what she does well. Not just well…. extremely well. The only people who have a legitimate gripe in this “Bow Down” situation are people like me who don’t like the quality of the song. If you think the execution of the track is weak, technical stuff like the beat, the lyrics, the tone etc etc. that’s different than saying “She shouldn’t say things like that”. Most R&B singers, indeed most women aren’t feminists. And in that regard Beyoncé is no different. Her telling “bitches” to bow down isn’t as hypocritical to me as the false humility her image consultants tried to sell us. So just to be clear on this icon yes, feminist no.

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    E. Knight lives in Philadelphia. Check out his blog boxingwithgod.com. Read more of his AHH Blogs HERE

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