Things got especially heated, though, during the audience Q&A when a public school teacher took the panel to task for leading so many children astray with their lyrical content.
“It’s OK if teachers don’t understand what we do right now,” Bun said. “Trust me, there isn’t a rapper up here that wants a 12-year old kid to go out and commit crimes, smoke weed, drink liquor, fight or any of that. But we all have to work towards a solution together. And who’s to say that your voice as a teacher isn’t louder than mine as a rapper just because I’m on the radio? That’s a misconception because here’s what you’re telling me: you’re telling me that you can sit in a classroom for seven hours a day talking to a child and a three-minute song can erase that? I don’t believe that. I believe that before that child got in the classroom there was an issue. So let’s speak to those issues and then once we get rid of these issues, then we can talk about rap. Rap is not here saying that we didn’t do it. Rap is here saying we’re not alone.”
Lupe fired back and took the teacher and the school system to task. “The school system is very much to blame,” Lu said. “The way that we’re taught how to teach kids and the system that you came up under is very archaic, ancient and 60 or 70 years past its time. So you should go into school, take all those antiquated textbooks, meaningless tests, throw them all away, and teach these kids something meaningful. Teach them how to grow and plant their own food as opposed to teaching them English or Math they ain’t never gonna use or teaching this history that’s backwards. Miseducation is miseducation no matter how you put it whether it’s coming out of a radio station or it’s coming out of a teacher. Miseducation is miseducation no matter who’s saying it. Just because I can make it rhyme and you can’t that makes you better than me?”
The panel discussion ended with Lupe’s comments on political rights and wrongs, but it was his comments to an aspiring female rapper in the crowd about her disparaging views on Nicki Minaj that cemented the power of hip-hop that goes beyond preconceived notions of its social reach.
“Don’t knock Nicki Minaj and I’ll tell you why,” Lupe said. “I was in Detroit and everybody needs to take a trip to Detroit. If you think where you’re at is bad, go to Detroit. In Detroit, I went to this high school, there was a radio thing with a DJ set up, and while I was driving to this high school, you literally pass by miles and miles of houses gutted out. There’s literally nothing. There’s no hope, no nothing. I’ve been to Africa where they make huts out of cowshit and I’ve never seen poverty like this. I go to the high school, they’re playing some music, you see the kids, and the way these kids live in this despair, they live in this place. But then they played the Nicki Minaj “Moment For Life” record. So you got all this chaos, a Nicki Minaj verse comes on, all the girls stopped, and you see all these girls reciting this record out of all the negativity and ass shaking and the whole thing that Nicki puts out there. And to see those kids reciting that verse; to know that that verse got through and she had to shake her ass and do whatever she had to do to get that verse to them girls in Detroit to sing that and have pride about themselves? I hit Nicki that night and said, ‘Yo, I’m just sending you some positive vibes because you had these girls in a high school in Detroit singing your song and it was beautiful.’ So you never know what’s on somebody’s mind or who they’re touching. So you should aspire to be like that.” —Maurice Bobb