Damn it, Lupe.
Perhaps no other active rapper injects his music with such intelligence, such thoughtful ideas, such reasonable positions. The Chicago native put the Midwest on the map as a hotbed for socially conscious hip-hop, closing the door on the region's association with Nelly and Chingy and opening the door for guys like Gary, Indiana's Freddie Gibbs and St. Louis' own Nato Caliph, Black Spade, Prince Ea, and many others. And Lupe has dropped his knowledge with one of the sickest flows in the game.
He's always been willing to wax on social ills and politics. But this might be a little much. In an interview with CBS News' What's Trending, Lupe said, "To me, the biggest terrorist is Obama in the United States of America."
He defended his statement by adding, "For me, I'm trying to fight the terrorism that's causing the other forms of terrorism. You know, the root cause of terrorists is the stuff the U.S. government allows to happen. The foreign policies that we have in place in different countries that inspire people to become terrorists."
This isn't the first time that Lupe has called a sitting president a terrorist. A song on his 2006 album, Food & Liquor, called "American Terrorist" was primarily about George W. Bush.
Since then, Lupe has set his rhetorical sights on the new president. And justifiably so. "I always criticize power," he said on a recent episode of The Colbert Report. "Always criticize power. Always. Even if you agree with it, you should criticize power." Well-put. That kind of enlightenment is why we love Lupe Fiasco.
So, yes, he has been an outspoken critic of Obama as of late. After Bin Laden was killed, he tweeted, "Osama Dead!?! Afghan Operation done now??? Now kill poverty, wack schools, and US imperialism..." And on his recent single "Words I Never Said," Lupe raps, "Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn't say shit/That's why I ain't vote for him, next one either."
The last part of that line makes a lot more sense now, because in the same CBS News interview, Lupe went on to say, "I don't vote. I don't get involved in politics. Because it's meaningless, to be honest. First of all, I'm a real big believer if I'm going to vouch for someone, I'm going to stand behind everything they do. If I'm going to say I stand behind this person and write on a piece of paper that says I stand for this person, then I have to take responsibility for everything that he does. Because that's just how I am as a human being. Politicians aren't going to do that, because I don't want you to bomb some village in the middle of nowhere."
Sure, he makes some interesting points. But he is a role model-- a good one, for the most part-- with a cult following (his latest album Lasers has sold more than 400,000 copies and he has more than 600,000 followers on Twitter, where he also leads a book club). Perhaps the biggest problem with his stance on voting is the possibility that a chunk of his devoted fans will take his position to heart. And if you are what you listen to, then that means American Democracy would be losing a good number of thoughtful, socially conscious, politically-minded voters.
Of course a man's actions hold more weight than his words, and Lupe's body of work speaks for itself. In 2009 he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for the clean water crisis. In 2010 he released the track "Resurrection" and donated the proceeds from its downloads to the Haiti earthquake relief effort. Later that year he toured to raise funds for Invisible Children, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing attention, aid and education to the people of northern Uganda. And a few months ago he launched the Lupe Fiasco Foundation, which focuses on youth development in Chicago.
So however you feel about his recent statement, Lupe's heart is always in the right place.