Lupe Fiasco’s lyrical precision is right on target

Published on March 8, 2011

Lupe Fiasco's lyrical precision is right on target

Lupe Fiasco performs at the WUSL Power 99 Xfinity Performance Theater on February 28, 2011 in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. (Photo Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

By Jasmine ‘Jazzi’ Johnson
(for) Rap Genius

Rap Genius is your guide to the meaning (or several meanings) of rap songs. You can listen to them, read their lyrics, and click one of the thousands of explanations for a detailed description (historically, culturally etc.) of what each line means. In this post, Rap Genius breaks down the latest releases from Lupe Fiasco, and pinpoints a few details that may have sniped over your head.

Lupe Fiasco fans are hungry; luckily the Proust of rap has been serving up some apéritifs, so to speak, steadily releasing singles from Lasers since February 15th.

Some huge Lasers memes that we’ve pinpointed (get it?):

Lasered Line Number One:

Have you ever had the feeling that you was being had?

The fight for the release of Lasers was initially as bright as lights on an undercover car. After two years of holding back, Lupe decided to take out his frustrations on Twitter.

Soon after, a couple of his crazy… — I mean — determined fans took to the internet before sanctioning Warner Music Group CEO Lyor Cohen (aka the “Dior Homme” of the record industry) to the streets.

If Lasers were delayed once again — undoubtedly to much hullabaloo from the fans — there would be some disaster coverage on Lupe’s favorite news channel.

Following the opening line of “The Show Goes On,”, Lupe spills out the best rant he’s ever made since his MTV fallout — (before his MTV make-up session, of course..)

Don’t that shit there make you mad? They treat you like a slave
Put chains all on your soul and put whips up on your back
They be lying through they teeth, hope you slip up off your path
I don’t switch up, I just laugh, put my kicks up on they desk
Unaffected by they threats, then get busy on they ass

The first line was in reference to the last few shows of The Sex Pistols, in which Johnny Rotten asked “Have you ever had the feeling that you was being cheated?” – a genius tip-of-the hat and middle finger to his music corporate affiliates, which Lupe has mimicked with astounding clarity.

Not the first time a rapper has decided to “stick it to the man” btw; in fact, Lupe is minding his P’s and Q’s compared to, say, his NWA forefathers. The beat gives a kick-back feel similar to that of“Kick, Push,” which is most evidently the reason why it’s been getting love from its Skurban fanbase.

Lasered Line Number Two:

It was ‘All Black Everything’

It is our deep (albeit infantile) concern that Lasers will turn out to be an album criticized ofswagger-jacking. So before anyone gets out of hand with such outlandish talk, we would like to point out that — although Jay-Z made it a hot line, Lupe made it a hot song (we’ve come full-circle!)

Lupe is simply paying homage to the Grand Hova — a man who stole umpteen lines from the great BIG I digress.

Lupe borrowing from Jay seems to put things into perspective; a full circle, if you will. Lupe’s song presents an alternate universe — like science fiction — and there’s nothing wrong with using the original to present an innovative departure. Hip-hop is the Mecca of recycled and revamped lyricism.

We just want to be clear that Lupe is not regressing into the ever-popular realm of unoriginality. Lupe keeps his lines witty, innovative, and non-dumb and dumber. No exceptions.

Also, given the time he took to publicly ‘school’ SouljaBoy about his being “super lyrical” following a “Twargument” (as Twitter-based arguments are referred to by the youths these days) — it seems fitting to hold Lupe accountable for his own dreams.

Keep it to the one-line, Lupe: please! don’t copy Jay-Z’s metro fashion sensibilities (hopefully the “Age of Chancletas” will soon end, allowing Lupe’s “Fall of Rome” brand to take the stylistic forefront..)

Lasered Line Number Three:

That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either

Lupe, I’m down with you, homie. F**k Obama — giant let-down (at least Lupe knows who Obama is though — unlike, say, DMX).

Lupe plays both sides of the aisle though, with popular jabs consistently thrown at Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck — in this case, however, Lupe Fiasco not only openly criticized the beloved Barack Obama, but stated that he didn’t even vote for the man! (Then again, voting ups your chances of getting jury duty, so…good move, Lupe!)

Dude is dating so and so, blabbering ’bout such and such
And that ain’t Jersey Shore, homey, that’s the news
And these the same people supposedly telling us the truth
Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say sh*t
That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either
I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
And I believe in the people, yeah

The issue of politics is prevalent in Lupe’s material (cf. “American Terrorist” and “Little Weapon”) — he’s even got a nice diss of W.

Interestingly enough, Lupe (though a known liberal) has come to share a few opinions similar in conclusion (not theory) with Bill O’Reilly — the “thug anchorman” himself. In January of last year, the two shared the same opinion in regards to a statement made about Chicago’s lower-income neighborhoods seeming as if they were of a third-world-country and the lack of support for its change by President Obama. Although I’m sure it’s safe to say their sentiments were notprecisely the same — as explained here — Lupe and O’Reilly’s views were freakishly similar.

Don’t be so quick to call Lupe a new-age O’Reilly though, given Ol’ Bill’s Islamophobia. Fiasco, who is a proud Muslim-American, often raps about his religion and his want for world peace amongst nations and spiritual beliefs. For this, he’s become a threat to some and a hero to many. Even his new clothing line, Fall of Rome, has revolutionary text embroidered within it.

With his quick lip, cool head, and lack of tolerance for ignorance, Lupe is the political voice of hip-hop for some time to come. Now that I think about it, perhaps this is the number one reasonwhy he and O’Reilly will never be on the same playing-field.

Jazzi Johnson is a new Rap Genius editor — although she is building up street cred at a record pace. Soon a BA graduate of music journalism, she’ll be wreaking havoc on your favorite artists for some time to come.

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