Lupe Fiasco And Rhymefest Engage In On-Line Battle Of Wits
Download: Lupe Fiasco - "Hurt Me Soul" (from Food And Liquor)
Download: Lupe Fiasco - "Paris, Tokyo" (from The Cool)
Download: Rhymefest - "Dynamite (Going Postal)" (from Blue Collar)
Download: Rhymefest - "Devil's Pie" from Blue Collar)
With the New Hampshire primaries set to make or break certain presidential candidacies today, it's no doubt that a miracle will occur if cooler heads prevail while debating the merits of one candidate versus another. The world of hip-hop is no exception. However, should more debate arise surrounding the candidates, those debaters could take a few notes from the constructive and informative on-line debate taking place between two Chicago-based rappers--Lupe Fiasco and Rhymefest.
What set off the back-and-forth were some comments made by Lupe in an article on hip-hop news site SOHH about his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, and why he prefers the New York senator over Illinois Senator Barack Obama. From the mouth of Lupe:
"Obama doesn't really impress me like that...It's not a shot at him but some of his agendas, the bombing of Iran and all that stuff.* He ain't gonna do nothing but perpetuate the nonsense that all the Presidents before have done, and what Bush is doing now. It's to the point now where the world is so twisted and so messed up that we need somebody to come in..."I think Hillary will set an example for women all around the world and hopefully effect some change, as opposed to another man pushing for agendas and pushing policies
You may have noticed an asterisk in the previous paragraph. The editors of SOHH rightfully corrected Lupe's erroneous statement about Obama's desire to bomb Iran. Rhymefest, in a post on his MySpace blog titled "Don’t Let Your Arrogance Fuel Your Ignorance", also corrected Lupe's statement by writing the following:
Barack Obama has stated he is not opposed to military action against Iran if they were persistent in their ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons; weapons being the operative word. However, he also states that as president, he plans to talk to Iran without preconditions about certain assurances in the context of them showing some good faith, as well. Barack Obama stated 'I think it is important for us to send a signal that we are not hell-bent on regime change, just for the sake of regime change, but expect changes in behavior. And there are both carrots and there are sticks available to them for those changes in behavior.' This clearly does not describe the agenda of a candidate who supports 'the bombing of Iran and all that stuff.'
After a poster on hip-hop message board Okay Player asked Lupe directly if he was going to respond to Rhymefest's post, Lupe wrote back saying that he would do so in private, but not in public--by giving 'Fest a call. Rhymefest then beat Lupe to the responding punch by writing to him directly on the Okayplayer message board, due to Lupe not having 'Fest's number:
Please fam...don't let some of these people on the boards get the situation twisted for you. I'm not dissing or coming at you on any level. In fact, I love the song "Go Go Gadget Flow" off of your new album, and I encourage everyone to purchase The Cool...As a brother, all I'm asking you to do is tell the people that you really don't know what Barack Obama's position is on Iran, or at least not when you did the SOHH interview. In my original post, I did not mention your name or the actual source of the interview. Just to let you know, my mission is not to down you, but to big up Barack Obama...Lupe, please tell the people Barack Obama does NOT support bombing Iran.
Lupe responds by saying that he doesn't have much faith in the democratic process and that he isn't bothered by what might have been misconstrued on the Okayplayer message board. Fiasco then went into further, ellipsis-heavy detail about what he feels is the "abomination of true democracy":
I've been around politics and politicians my whole life...I say this to let you know first off I'm educated in the process...so much so that I don't agree with it..more importantly I wasn't out to slander Obama..they (Clinton and Obama) both still tow the line and champion the ideals of their respective party...which is flawed in its nature...I don't hear Justice and Equality from any of these candidates that are on the forefront...not even Hillary...I'm not impressed...I'm not impressed like i was impressed by Malcolm or Martin or continue to be impressed by Chomsky or Cornel West...I dont hear true Social Equality...
in closing I think that if I said all that in response to SOHH it might have been clearer that Lupe Fiasco doesnt even support the system as a whole so what he thinks of the candidates who are running to head it up isn't even relevant...maybe I'm wrong...
Lupe then ends with wishing his fellow Muslim Rhymefest "blessings and godspeed in (Rhymefest's) struggles for truth. Rhymefest then responds by thanking God that such a constructive dialogue was able to take place in the first place, and that the reason he is able to relate to Obama's message "hope and its audacity" is because, unlike Fiasco, whose parents were Black Panther-supporting intellectuals, Rhymefest was born to "a crackhead alcoholic". Fest elaborates:
Being raised on the Southside of Chicago under the conditions that many of us are subject to, I haven't had the opportunity to become desensitized to the political and social ramifications of a Black president...I don't believe that Barack Obama is the 'same ol' same'. Did you know that in a recent poll 69% of whites think it's possible for a Black president, while only 47% of Blacks thought it was? This suggests to me that our cynicism and disbelief will surely be the death of us...It seems to me as if you're not sure if change can or cannot happen. Our recent successes, and Barack's recent success in Iowa, is proof that with faith all things are possible.
Lupe then responds by saying that he admires 'Fest for triumphing over adversity, but that the reason why he (he being Lupe) distrusts the system because of similar harsh circumstances in his upbringing. Lupe says that he "looks for beacons of hope as well and where I see it is not in the face of a politician in this day and age...Sadly and Happily I see it where it's always been...in the face of the people" Lupe concludes by saying that "I pray for change...and change will come...i dont know in what form...is it Obama? maybe...God gave us the ability to have faith."
And that's where the dialogue last ended. As big as a fan I am of both Rhymefest and Lupe Fiasco, the winner (not that this was a competition in any sense whatsoever) here clearly is Rhymefest. It seemed like Lupe spent too much time talking about how informed about the political process and not enough time actually demonstrating that knowledge, at least the way of statistics. There's certain more than enough anecdotal truth to what Lupe Fiasco is saying. But Rhymefest made his case in a concise, well-reasoned way. Furthermore, Rhymefest had the facts right to begin with regarding Barack Obama's position on Iran. Either way, they both make great music and you can listen to tracks from their records at the top of the post.
Buy Rhymefest's music here.
Buy Lupe Fiasco's music here
Rhymefest MySpace Page
Lupe Fiasco MySpace Page