Lupe Fiasco’s latest offering, “Words I Never Said,” has caused a massive stir lately. The song highlights several societal ills and singles out America’s response to the Gaza strip bombings as a moral failing of the Obama administration. Lupe lashed out against President Obama, saying he “ain’t do shit” about those bombings and “that’s why I ain’t vote for him.”
This quickly generated a backlash from those who disagreed with Lupe, which then generated a backlash to the backlash. With all this backlash, people will soon forget what they were lashing at to begin with.
The song itself is boring. The hook puts me to sleep and the beat is laughably bland. And while the message is crucial, Lupe isn’t exactly spitting revolutionary lyrics here. We’re not talking words powerful enough to emancipate Egypt or anything. Lupe is a smart rapper and he’s made better songs with equally compelling production in the past. In fact, I liked this song better when it was called “American Terrorist.” On the list of rappers I’d single out for random criticism, he doesn’t even begin to register. This isn’t about that.
This is about people keep acting like “Words I Never Said” is groundbreaking strictly because it has a “message.” I hear people saying that music is terrible but that Lupe is changing the game because of his lyrics. Does the message automatically excuse the song quality?
In art, the package is always as important as the present. Music and message don’t have to be mutually exclusive.