Keep Your Politics Out of This

Posted on June 21, 2011 by


On his Facebook, Lupe Fiasco posted up his interview with the well-known FOX news conservative commentator/personality Bill O’Reilly.

I generally like that Lupe has been one of the more popular and politically-outspoken artists.  And Bill O’Reilly, I’m programmed not to like, but it seems like he’s just around to entertain/bring controversy.

I looked at the interview and came away feeling kind of ambivalent.  Lupe made a good point about not needing a Ph.D to understand politics, but I was nonplussed about his explanation for calling Obama “a terrorist.”

So, overall grade of Lupe on O’Reilly:  incomplete.

I looked on Facebook for reactions.

Upon reading the Facebook responses, I came across a few statements, statements that echo sentiments I’ve read on various message board forums and facebook comments on links.

  • lupe has to keep his messages in music not politics. as a big fan of lupe it was hard for me to watch the interview.
  • I respect u as an artist and entertainer and up until the forced ‘lasers’ i enjoyed ur music. But please leave the politicing alone.
  • Rappers should stay in their lane, in the studio.

I’ve “gauged” that it’s usually been apathetic and/or right-wing leaners who have often made these type of comments about the role of  “entertainers” and their relation to politics. Over the years I’ve been bugged the fuck out by this idea.

I have been sincerely trying to understand why these people make such  statements.

Maybe the people who say this kind of thing don’t agree with an entertainer’s politics.

Maybe they’re thinking of how much business opportunities and therefore popularity an entertainer might lose.

Maybe it’s just a flippant statement they make about how an entertainer should just “stick to their day-jobs” as if the artist/entertainer is incapable of doing anything else.

The feeling I get from it is that these people expect people, places, and things to be neatly confined performing their one task for society.  Once they’re done, they want these entertainers quietly boxed away out of view  if not doing their task.

Only “experts” and in this case “political science Ph.D’s” (as Bill O’Reilly would have it) can be “trusted” with comments on policy.

If they’re the only ones trusted, they are the ones allowed to speak.

And if they are the only ones allowed to speak, they are whom we see and continually see speak.

Then we develop this expectation that it is them and people like them who can only really speak about issues that affect us.

Everything else from anyone with no credentials and their opinions cannot be trusted, or so this meme goes.  In effect, we outsource any type of critical thinking that we might do about politics and policy to address problems to “other people” or “people with expertises.”

I’m of the ilk that thinks politics affects every stitch of all our lives, especially us urbanized Angelenos, and in turn we affect and make policies.

To explain how I think the way I do about artists and politics, like a wise artist once said about the state of hip-hop:

People talk about Hip-Hop like it’s some giant livin in the hillside
comin down to visit the townspeople
We (are) Hip-Hop
Me, you, everybody, we are Hip-Hop
So Hip-Hop is goin where we goin

People talk about politics like its some giant livin in the hillside coming down to visit the townspeople.  We are our politics, our states, our local communities as well.

In other words we talk about politics like it its some kind of living material thing that we have the capability of detaching from and calling up at our own convenience.

I think such an idea sets up the false expectation that people are one thing and remain fixed into that one thing.  There’s no nuance, nor history, nor uniqueness to people, they are simply, the one thing.

A part of why I did like Lupe Fiasco did two things with his music:  1)  show off his abilities as a rapper and 2)  bring some political issues (explaining Islam, conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone) to the spotlight.

There are just too many fucked up things happening in the world that it seems we as an imagined collective of citizens of the US with our resources and technologies are capable of addressing with just a little attention.   However a lot of those things in the world don’t get the benefit of any attention.

I don’t think why entertainers/artists do such things, I flip the question on its head and think what prevents people and why aren’t more entertainers/artists doing such things?

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