This Thursday I attended the Direct Drive Record Pool Listening Lounge sponsored by DTLR featuring Lupe Fiasco. I was able to sit down with Lupe and press him on his position on not voting, ask him how he feels about but being the conscious MC of the Millennial Generation, and ask about what is quintessentially American about his new upcoming album Food and Liquor 2 The Great American Rap Album. Check out my interview with Lupe
Sean Breeze I’ve noticed that if you take a detailed look at Hip Hop you are the only conscious mc of the millennial generation to achieve mainstream success. If you look at Hip Hop history, artists like Nas Common and even Mos Def all pre-date you and are hold overs from the previous generations. What responsibility do you feel with your position?
Lupe: I don’t know. That’s a murky question to try to answer. I feel there’s other people. You can try to take those guys (Common Mos Def Nas ) out of it I still look at those guys as inspiration to me and they’re still a part of it they apart of me and apart of this generation. I just think it’s my responsibility to make sure that what I do is at least helpful in some capacity it doesn’t necessarily have to be all the way right but as long as its helping someone and not destroying you. That feels like my only contribution.
Sean Breeze In a recent interview you shared thoughts on the Birthday Song record by Kanye West and 2 Chainz. Where you said “For me Hip Hop I wanna hear stuff that I’ve never heard before so like 99 percent of the hip hop I hear these days is just the same.” What do you think is the next level of content is for Hip Hop?
Lupe: It wasn’t a content issue. It was more like it literally sounds like all of the other songs. It’s not like subject matter, well I guess it would be a content issue since I’m talking about the subject matter. It literally sounds the same. I don’t know what that is. I just know what I like is being different. I like listening to Kendrick Lamar but it’s not that Kendrick wouldn’t talk about that same subject matter but I feel that maybe he would do it on a different track or from a different point of view. So it’s just like in that radio world in that radio format world with records a lot of those records sound the same because they’re in that format programming. But what’s next I don’t know. Odd Future came with a lot future music with their beats. I think what Drake did is a lot of future music on his album. The things that him and Boi-1da did and put together. Alot of that is future music. And what Kid Cudi did. The future sounds are now but its just a progression on it.
Sean Breeze: Your new album Food and Liquor 2 The Great American Rap Album. What is quintessentially American about this album and what side of the American perspective are you trying to give the people
Lupe: I talk about the American experience from my point of view as best I can. As knowledgeable as I am about it from my own experience and I’m an American like it or not. I was born here and hopefully won’t die here but it’s just everything that I tell comes from a American point of view so that’s the only credit that I need is being here growing up here and seeing it and absorbing it
Sean Breeze: In numerous outlets you have said that you will not vote and in a most recent interview you spoke to being in favor of people centered community initiatives does voting and community involvement have to be mutually exclusive? And can you see that not voting might lead to policy implementation that might make many of the positive initiatives that you would be in favor of much harder to accomplish?
Lupe: Do you mean black people voting in mass?
Sean Breeze: I mean anybody voting in mass from a progressive point of view.
Lupe: Well first black people voting in mass don’t have enough votes to vote anybody in anyway especially on a presidential level it’s just we are a minority being a minority we don’t have enough votes to vote anyone in even if everybody black voted for the same person we would still need the majority of white people to vote with you as well. The other part of that is I believe there are certain levels of politics. When people normally say voting they are talking about voting for the President they’re not talking about voting for their Senator, or voting for their Alderman or voting for their school President you know local elections. They mostly are talking about national elections. I assume that’s what 99% of people are talking about voting when people come to me they are talking about voting for the President. A lot of the policies are in Congress, a lot of the policies are in lower legislation a lot of the policies are on local levels with state governments. You have to be active there too. You can’t just come and say now its November it’s time to vote. Some people just vote for the whole Democratic Party and think that’s what it is. But you don’t know if you don’t study individually who you are voting for, if you don’t really know and study individually who you’re voting for you don’t know what their party affiliations truly are what their corporate affiliations truly are and what they’re going to put above you. So that’s still a crap shoot because your vouching for someone and just hoping they’re going to carry across your ideals but with that it’s not mutually exclusive I think it’s interconnected but I think what’s stronger is your own personal action and activity within your community.
Sean Breeze: So if they are interconnected would you be comfortable in saying you can vote and be active in your community.
Lupe: I don’t believe in voting that’s just my personal choice I believe it’s meaningless on a national level. I believe it has some influence on a local level but I choose not to vote. I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote because I choose not to vote I would never say that to anyone. What I do say is that what I think is greater than voting is putting yourself on the frontline and doing what you vote for those people to do.
Lupe is to me the conscious MC of the millennial generation and one of the most important and necessary voices in Hip Hop today. I wish I had more time to talk to him and pick his brain about community involvement, politics, national policy and voting. I feel I would be remised if I didn’t say his stances on voting and the effects of national policy on our community are troubling to me. In the 2008 elections President Obama won 45% of the white vote while McCain won 55% of the white vote. President Clinton also lost the white vote in 1992 and 1996 winning both elections contrary to Lupe’s contention in the interview. I would love to have further discussion with him on the effects of national policy on the progressive community and specifically the black community. I appreciate him acknowledging influence of voting in local election at least and applaud his championing of community activism. I am excited to listen to Food and Liquor 2 The Great American Rap Album and implore all of you on September 25th to buy and support one of our great conscious voices in Hip Hop.