You Tried It: Lupe Fiasco Edition

Posted on August 30, 2012 by


You know when people just try shit?

Yeah, you do–you just thought of someone who has. I’m no professional, but plenty of experience and contact with People Who Try Shit has convinced me that there are certain class of people put on this Earth to consistently work your last goddamn nerve. I pegged Lupe Fiasco as one of those people months ago.

Trust me when I say that things have not always been this way. A year ago, it would’ve been really hard for me to accuse Lupe Fiasco of Trying Shit. Even now I’m totally aware that little white suburban kid who scoffs openly at the idea of Kanye West is probably somewhere disagreeing with me, and that’s fine. I can agree that sometimes Lupe Fiasco does not come off immediately as a Person Who Tries Shit, which automatically means that he is indeed Trying Shit all the time.

I’ve been watching Fiasco’s slow descent into the ever tricky “educated nigga” trope and the fall has been a slippery one. You’ve heard of the educated nigga–the kind of dude who would rock dashikis if he could find one, who preaches about empowering the black community but still uses the same tired ideas about black people in order to build a connection. The kind of dude who forgets that a nigga isn’t concrete or a particular mindset. You know, the kind of dude who spews the same kind of shit he claims to fight and tells you he’ sjust “being  real.” Case in point: “Bitch Bad,” Lupe’s newest foray into the kind of “let-me-show-you-how-to-feel” shit that gets niggas like him in trouble.

Do not confuse my criticism with derision: even though I’m not all about Lupe’s approach, I’m about his goal. There’s never really a bad time to talk about misogyny, black women and hip-hop: I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. These are important conversations to have! But if the majority of your conversations are reduced to finger pointing and shaming, then I have to call a party foul, take a seat in the corner.

Educated niggas like Lupe Fiasco forget a lot of things. They forget that women are people, that kids can understand context and that the Internet is not the bastillion of parenting. The idea that young black males learn how to live, eat and shit from their mothers? Over it. The idea that young black girls emulate the booty-quaking styles of video vixens? Double over it. The subliminal messaging to parents that long for the old school style of parenting where parents were all up in your shit? Bleh. The overt, hard-to-miss finger shaking at black women for failing at everything in life? Dude.

I don’t doubt that Fiasco was looking for a conversation; I’m just aware that he ended up at the wrong one. His goals were admirable: it’s not often that we talk about black women’s relationship with the misogyny found in hip-hop and rap. When we do, it’s unfortunately washed in similar tones: with a lack of understanding about black women and a misconception of how relationships to music work. Do I doubt that there’s a black girl out there confusing her femininity with the famed “bad bitch?” No, but I also know that this is not the swarming epidemic that Fiasco is making it out to be. I also know that if educated niggas like Fiasco spent less time on the outside looking in (and writing raps about what they say) and, you know, actually sat down with a real live black girl or once in a while, we could start crafting conversations that were aware, empathetic and didn’t make me barf in my mouth.

What does “Bitch Bad” do but not open up yet another conversation in which the black woman is considered at fault for the failure of those around her or that of herself? I’m tired of having to wade through the conversations of grown ass men who should know better.  I’m tired of black misogyny being disguised as some kind of teaching point. I’m tired of the black woman being the base of all that is good or holy in the black family. That’s just now how shit works.

Mostly I’m just tired of educated niggas like Lupe Fiasco who waste their intelligence on tired-ass songs like these. Come sit by me, dude, and a learn a little something.

Posted in: Commentary, Music