Not that it matters much anymore, with Lupe Fiasco seemingly destined to fade into obscurity and end up the answer to some future mid-oughts trivia question about “skateboard rap,” but for a while there it was interesting to think about: If Lupe Fiasco had become a mega-star on the order of, say, a Kanye West, America would’ve found itself in the odd position of having an avowed devout Muslim pop star while simultaneously enmeshed in a war with Islamic fascism.
Which would’ve been pretty weird, if you think about it. I can hardly think of an historic precedent for such a scenario. Not to attempt to draw any parallels (because I’m sure there aren’t any), but as far as I know, there weren’t any big jazz records made Nazis during World War II. And, as amusing as it would have been, I’m pretty sure there was never any Viet Cong equivalent of the Eagles during the final stages of Vietnam.
Indeed, there haven’t been very many Muslim pop stars one way or the other. American Idol’s own Paula Abdul is ostensibly an Arab of some sort, but I doubt she gets down on her knees for anything other than to blow that Puerto Rican guy she was allegedly involved with. Cat Stevens hit it big in the ’70s with songs like “Baby, It’s a Wild World” and the now-ironic “Peace Train,” but I don’t think he got serious about Islam until after his career had jumped the shark.
To be sure, plenty of rappers have professed an allegiance to “Calypso” Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam as well as its even more bizarre prison gang-oriented offshoot the Five Percenters. But it’s not like anyone other than the ADL considers them a real religion of any significance, and that’s because they’re always looking for someone to beef with as a matter of political strategy.
From what I understand, based on my reading of his lackluster Food and Liquor as well a lot of the press leading up to its release, Lupe Fiasco considers himself an adherent of the Cat Stevens school of Islam more so than the Rakim school, to put it in terms of washed up musicians. If he disagrees, he’s certainly free to talk management into allowing him to unleash another torrent of ad hominems on yours truly like he did a few weeks ago.
For a guy who hardly ever curses, let alone drops the dreaded n-bomb, I think people were surprised to see him go off like that. But that’s the thing about Islam: It’s a self-proclaimed religion of peace that just so happens to have a 1400 year history of violence. They don’t particularly set out to do anything other than submit themselves to the will of Allah, but that usually ends up involving wiring some poor child with explosives and sending him forth into a crowd of infidels.
Does Lupe Fiasco consider himself the equivalent of a suicide bomber sent to rid the rap world of a few infidels (metaphorically speaking at least)? When you think about it, his album does seem filled with that kind of rhetoric. He speaks of the images of champagne and bling bling so often projected in hip-hop the same way that Islamic fascists speak of American culture in general and, in particular, the “MTV culture” that they view as such a threat to Muslim youth.
And his claim that he once hated hip-hop because of the way women were treated (presumably before he became a gat-toting crack slinger?) seems ripe for further inspection beyond declaring his views “refreshing.” Muslims, after all, aren’t exactly known for being progressive when it comes to that sort of thing. Does he find that the depiction of women in rap lyrics is especially harsh vis a vis other genres of music or is the thought of a woman in revealing attire alone enough to set him off?
Ironically, the myriad issues raised by Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor are a lot more interesting than the actual music contained therein. In that sense, I suppose it’s too bad he doesn’t seem poised to have much of a viable career as a recording artist. That said, I’m sure I’ll find something else to write about.