Throwback! Last year, feminist undergrad publication Broad Recognition interviewed the Ying Yang Twins about their misogynistic and violent lyrics after the crunk rap duo was selected to be a Spring Fling headliner. [An excerpt: Yang: Although we have derogatory lyrics — in the situations that we represent, to those women, the lyrics are not derogatory. They are helpful. BR: So: “For real bitch / Don’t take this shit wrong / Thinking I’m nice / I’ll break your jawbone.” That’s something that they would consider helpful? Yang: I mean, it all goes along with what we promote.] The pair especially drew criticism from the Women’s Center and Afro-American Cultural Center. This year, WEEKEND sat down with this year’s controversial Spring Fling pick Lupe Fiasco to grill him on his incendiary work.*
Q: If you are what you say you are, a superstar, then have no fear, the camera’s here, and the microphones and they wanna know, oh oh oh oh …
A: Excuse me?
Q. Sorry. Our bad. So, you’re from Chicago?
Q. Okay, Fiasco. What’s with the name?
A. What do you mean?
Q. Sounds like trouble.
A. I —
Q. Save it. Tell us about some responses to your work. What do your critics say about your attitude toward women?
You’ve been shedding too much light, Lu. (Dumb it down.)
You make ’em wanna do right, Lu. (Dumb it down.)
They’re getting self-esteem, Lu. (Dumb it down.)
These girls are trying to be queens, Lu. (Dumb it down.)
They’re trying to graduate from school, Lu. (Dumb it down.)
They’re starting to think that smart is cool, Lu. (Dumb it down.)
They’re trying to get up out the hood, Lu. (Dumb it down.)
I’ll tell you what you should do: Dumb it down.
Q. Well … that doesn’t seem like sound advice. Let’s move on. How would you describe a typical scene from a mainstream rap video? Give us the internal monologue of the producer.
Now come on everybody, let’s make cocaine cool.
We need a few more half-naked women up in the pool.
And hold this MAC-10 that’s all covered in jewels.
And can you please put your titties closer to the 22s?
Q. Rings true. Seems like an accurate appraisal and critique of the industry’s misplaced glamorization of drugs and sex. How did you get into rap?
Now I ain’t tryna be the greatest.
I used to hate hip-hop …
Yup, because the women degraded …
Q. Couldn’t agree more.
Gangsta rap-based filmings became the buildin’ blocks
for children with leakin’ ceilings catchin’ drippin’s with pots
coupled with compositions from Pac, Nas’s “It Was Written,”
in the mix with my realities and feelings
living conditions, religion, ignorant wisdom and artistic vision
I began to jot, tap the world and listen, it drop.
Q. Alright, kid. You sound like a relatively … thoughtful and lyrical writer, actually. With character. No problems here. Except it’s too bad that your latest albums haven’t lived up to your earlier work. Nice job opening for Kanye at Glow in the Dark. Caught you in New York. Any final words for our readers?
A. Alright, already the show goes on
all night, till the morning, we dream so long,
anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up,
just remember when you come up,
the show goes on.
Q. Insightful. Thanks for your time, “Thing that is a complete failure or disaster, especially in a ludicrous or humiliating way.”
A. It’s “Fiasco.”
Q. Right. Sorry.
Lyrics from: “Superstar,” “Dumb it Down,” “Daydreamin’” feat. Jill Scott, “Hurt Me Soul,” “The Show Goes On.”