Rapper Lupe Fiasco performed his song, "Words I Never Said," at the Hip Hop Awards 2011 on October 10. The performance was provocative in all kinds of ways that we like here at hawgblawg.
First, Erykah Badu backed him up on vocals (singing), dressed like this:
Yes, full-on burqa. And green fingernail polish. And a hat that makes her look, kinda like an Orthodox Jew? In any case, the most remarkable thing is the burqa. This does not mean that Badu (who in the past has laced her lyrics with the doctrine of the Nations of Gods and Earths, and who in the past used to dress in the style of an Earth, a modestly dressed female Five Percenter) has become a devout Muslimah. Rather, one guesses, she is expressing solidarity with the devout burqa wearer. Or trying, by putting the burqa on, to make it appear less strange, alien and exotic. I doubt it's a matter of burqa chic.
And then there is the matter of the banner that Lupe Fiasco has attached to his mike stand, a combination kufiya and Palestinian flag, with the word, Palestine stitched into it.
Avid readers of this blawg will know that Lupe was seen waving a Palestinian flag in concert on September 16, when he expressed his support for Palestine's admission to the UN. They will also recall that Lupe is a Muslim who doesn't hide it and that he has been spotted in a kufiya several times in the past. The real avid readers might also recall these lines from the song he performed at the Hip Hop Awards, "Words I Never Said":
Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit
That's why I ain't vote for him, next one either
I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
And I believe in the people...
I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullshit
Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets...
Now you can say it aint our fault if we never heard it
But if we know better than we probably deserve it
Jihad is not a holy war, where's that in the worship?
Murdering is not Islam!
And you are not observant
And you are not a Muslim
Israel don’t take my side cause look how far you’ve pushed them
And then there is the matter of the shirt that Lupe was wearing:
What can I say? We really like this. Occupy everything.
Erykah took her hat and face covering off at the end of the song:
The purpose was not to "disrobe." (Unlike Erykah did famously here.) The purpose was to show her face so that Mos Def could introduce her -- otherwise, I guess, no one in the audience would have known who that "weird" person in burqa was. Here, she looks like someone in less "severe" Islamic dress, in hijab rather than burqa.
I only wish I really loved the song, "Words I Never Said." I think the rap/rock combo is hard to pull off, and for me, it isn't successful in this case. I do, however, admire the performance and the lyrics, a lot. Especially all the provocation and the expressions of solidarity. And I do like a lot of Lupe's material. But not this song, so much.