01 October 2012

Bitch Bad

Chuck has some criticism for Lupe Fiasco’s latestsingle.  The crux of it, along with an important caveat, appears to be this:

It’s not mansplaining, and it’s not blackface.  Overall it’s a completely vapid discussion because it is between two competing victimologies.

*My interest here isn’t whether or not 9/11 is what we are told it was…it is mostly that people who embrace Trutherism are pseudo-intellectuals.  And that’s being gracious.  As Fiasco says in the interview at that link:  “I’m a proponent of critical thinking.”  Vanguard shit right there, I tell ya.

I think Chuck misidentifies Lupe Fiasco’s general problem.  Lupe Fiasco isn’t necessarily a pseudo-intellectual.  If this video is any indication, Lupe Fiasco isn’t really much of anything-intellectual.  Rather, Lupe Fiasco’s more general problem is his self-awareness.

That’s why “Bitch Bad” sounds so vapid:  Lupe is intentionally crafting a socially-conscious message, intended for mass consumption, fully aware of what happens when you couple moralizing with a catchy tune.  This doesn’t always lead to sucky, vapid results, at least if “He Say, She Say” is any indication.  Nonetheless, Lupe’s self-awareness can be smug and annoying, which is why Soderburg call it mansplaining and Chuck calls it pseudo-intellectuality.

From what I can tell, Lupe is actually quite musically and lyrically gifted when it comes to making hip-hop, and he is pretty self-aware.  This means that he’s in a position to actually influence social change through crafting catchy, moralistic hip-hop songs.  More importantly, Lupe himself is aware that he in a position to actually influence social change through crafting catchy, moralistic hip-hop songs.  This worked pretty well for him on his first two albums (“Dumb it Down” was downright hilarious, and “Hurt Me Soul” is engrossing), and even worked to a limited extent on his third album (“State RunRadio,” e.g.).  I haven’t had a chance to listen to his new album, but I’d imagine his formula of lyrical depth, musical genius, and self-aware lyrics will provide more hits than misses.  Still, his formula can turn hackneyed (especially the self-aware part), and that appears to be the issue with “Bitch Bad.

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