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Lupe Fiasco Crashes Hip-Hop & Politics Panel, Defends His Stance on Voting

Jasiri X, Angela Woodson, Bakari Kitwana, Lupe Fiasco & Dr. James Peterson at Art Sanctuary in Philly (Photo by Radee Westfield) 

I know there are a million reasons to hate social media, but there’s no denying it’s connected us in some very powerful ways. Ironically, on the same day of the historic #AskFarrakhan Townhall, I witnessed the power of Twitter, when Hip-Hop artist Lupe Fiasco, walked into Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia, because he saw we were talking about him in his Twitter mentions.

I was there participating in a panel called Rap Sessions, founded by Hip-Hop journalist, author and activist Barkari Kitwana. Rap Sessions, specializes in discussions around Hip-Hip culture, race and politics.  This particular panel was titled, “Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama / Tea Party Era” and featured Dr. James Peterson, Angela Woodson, Alexis McGill Johnson, and myself.

Naturally, Lupe was a topic because of his recent “Twitter Beef” with comedian DL Hughley and pundit Roland Martin, over Lupe expressing the fact he was not voting in the presidential election. Roland Martin went as far as to call Lupe, “ignorant”.  Being the only Hip-Hop artist on the panel, the moderator, Dr. Peterson, asked me to comment.

I made it clear that Lupe was talking about not voting in the national election, but he’s been very involved locally in Chicago politics.  Rapper, Rhymefest, who ran for alderman in Chicago last year, told me that Lupe was one of the first people to call him and help with his campaign. I aslo explained how the Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to give unlimited money to candidates has caused many young people to feel as if their vote carries less weight.

Little did we know that Lupe was in Philadelphia and was reading his twitter feed, until he responded, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes”

Sure enough Lupe showed up, took the stage, and spoke very eloquently about his postion. He also spoke about how he challenged DL Hughley, to put his money were his mouth is, and got no response. Lupe was very clear about his power and  told us about a conversation he had with MC Imortal Technique, who said most times as artists we’re not as powerful as we think.

I think Lupe coming through Rap Sessions, shows not only the power of Hip-Hop & social media, but also the need for a deeper conversation around participation in the political process. Lupe knew he was coming to a place of love and support, where he could share his ideas and be heard and respected, because Rap Sessions has for years been a place where artists, like myself, M1, Chuck D, Talib Kweli, and Mos Def are given a space where we can express ourselves beyond a 16 bar rhyme.

To book Rap Sessions for your university or community organization go to RapSessions.org, you don’t know who might show up.