Lupe and TalibTalib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco proved that two people can offer differing opinions to eachother on Twitter without the conversation devolving into a slew of expletives and insults. The two rappers took to Twitter to discuss their varying views on hip hop and negative lyrics.

It’s an interesting conversation to have between two rappers who have both been stamped with the “conscious” label. (For what it’s worth, I loathe the term “conscious rapper.” It’s a useless and far too restrictive label.) Talib essentially argued that the negative lyrics we hear in hip hop are symptoms of a pathology and a reflection of the communities of today. Lupe countered with his idea that hip hop today has morphed into a pathology in and of itself and that we need to go beyond just critiquing negative lyrics and actually condemn them.

Both made very astute points and brought up logical and thought-provoking arguments. Global Grind captured the entire conversation in a Storify-type post. It’s refreshing to see two grown men act like grown men and have a respectful back and forth about an important issue in a public forum.

Take a gander at the whole conversation and see their arguments. Do you agree with Talib? Lupe? Both? Neither?



Demetria Irwin is a New York City-based freelance writer/editor. Follow her on Twitter, @Love_Is_Dope.

  • Guest1234

    I agree with Lupe Fiasco. I particularly liked the part where he noted that the symptom has BECOME the cause. Talib Kweli’s attitude would have been more apt 20+ years ago. But times have changed. And young, lost kids are looking to the music to tell them what to want, who to be, how to behave, what to strive for, etc… in a way that they never have before.

    He’s neglecting a couple of major facts: 1) many teenagers today have PARENTS who grew up on rap music, and 2) Corporations have taken over the music and pushed the most ridiculous acts to the front. Rap is no longer the voice OF American youth. Nowadays, it’s the voice TO American youth. It isn’t some organic, authentic expression of hood life. It’s the spewing of the most vile garbage in an effort to sell consumerist crap to young people and line the pockets of corporate fatcats. Nothing more. Sorry Kweli, but the people lost control of the art form A LONG TIME AGO. It doesn’t belong to the youth anymore. It doesn’t belong to African-Americans. It doesn’t belong to the community. It belongs to the powers that be and they use it to perpetuate the most insidious, deleterious values on our kids to keep them functioning solely as blind, deaf and dumb robotic consumers of corporate crap.

    Kweli has a dated and provincial viewpoint, but what’s really happening TODAY is so much deeper than that. I’m afraid his age is showing. The kids today relate to rap in an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WAY than when he was a young person. I’m glad they had this discussion, though. Nice dialogue. Thanks for sharing.

  • adiatc

    Very eloquently put!! Truth!

  • KemaVA

    “He’s neglecting a couple of major facts: 1) many teenagers today have PARENTS who grew up on rap music, and ”

    I happen to be one of these parents. I listened to Tupac and Biggie while I was H.S. So recently I’m having a conversation with my soon to be 14yr old son in which I state “it’s going to be different for you since you have parents that listen to the same music you as you” He said “I dont like your music”. lol! I was shocked but this is the same boy that when the song about waking up in a Bugatti came on the radio he wanted to know why someone would be happy to wake up in a car. lol! These kids have minds. Talk to them.

    Oan… Why does it seem that adults think teens dont have their own opinions outside of what they are fed?

  • Guest1234

    LOL @ “I don’t like your music.” As for kids who don’t have their own opinions. I’m really referring to “at risk” youth. Kids who don’t have parents around who adequately illustrate to them that it’s OKAY to have ones own thoughts and opinions and to act on them.

    I used to tutor at a school for “at risk” youth, and a great majority of the students really did absorb popular culture as a guide for nearly everything. It was actually shocking to me. I grew up listening to rap music, etc.. and I didn’t much feel the need to emulate the culture. But that’s me. I had a strong parental guide. But for kids that don’t have that, I don’t think the rest of society should just throw them away and not consider how our culture is affecting them. They’re the ones who get into trouble. And we have a responsibility to them. That’s what makes a society civilized. We care for those who may have fallen through the cracks.

    Furthermore, media is so much more insidious today than ever before. Those messages are constant and can be downright oppressive. If nobody’s there to tell kids “It’s okay to tune this crap out,” social forces can often lead them to NEVER unplug or reflect on what they’re being fed. I think it’s a valid concern. After all, these times, they are a-changin’.

  • J. Nicole

    I hear you! I don’t have kids, but I have nieces/nephews who don’t like the music we came up on. It’s a shame that one thought Nas was whack! I almost fought him…

    They know Pac, but not the “Dear Mama” & “Brenda’s Got a Baby” Tupac. Such a shame.

    As for the Twitter convo, they both make great points. I still believe they are a product of the environment, especially if the parents have not moved beyond their hayday. I mean, I had my nephew listen to Lil Kim to prove a point but I’m not playing the entire “Hardcore” album for him. I also think there’s way more things involved aside from just rap music making these kids bonkers. Video games, a sense of hopelessness, the hormones in food has these kids desensitized. Not to mention some of the parents who let them listen to it!

  • gmarie

    I cannot believe I’m agreeing with Lupe for once. It’s time for us to step out of denial and acknowledge the level of influece music has on youth without guidance. Sure we can say parents should be parenting, but unfortunately not everyone has the luxury of having parental guidance in any form. A good number of us only had ONE parent trying to hold it all together. of all people I’d expect older and experienced heads to recognize the connection.

    sometimes I think they (Russell Simmons, Talib, etc.) take the argument as a war or attack on hip hop culture as a whole since the culture has been under scruitiny from inception. So it’s like second nature to take offense but… This argument is really just about the content of a segment within hip hop.

  • Ms.A

    I agree with Lupe. There may be rappers that are just rapping about their lifestlye but majority aren’t..for example rick ross, He has NEVER lived the life that he portrays in his music so why is he speaking on it. and then on top of all that he talks about date raping a woman in his lyrics…Lil wayne; one of his lyrics compared a sexual act to Emmitt Till’s death….For what?….It’s unacceptable
    and disrespectful. We as a community need to stop glorifying these violent laced lyrics and make those that have the power of the microphone use their power correctly.

  • Treece

    Yes! We aren’t looking at Grand master Flash and Ice Cube talking about what’s going on the hood as an expression of the poverty and crime that affects the youth. Nobody is really trying to send a message. Its all gratuitous garbage and filth meant to fill the pockets of the entertainment “powers that be”. It’s totally different. Like Lupe said, we need to hold those forces responsible.

  • E.M.S.

    This is why I love Lupe Fiasco. He tells it how it is.

  • LMO85

    @Guest1234–>You betta SAY IT. YES to this entire comment.

  • Kay

    I think they BOTH have valid points. Not only has consumerism destroyed hip hop and caused our youth to be led, instead of leading the charge in creative arts, it has disseminated so many harmful messages to our own detriment. People are completely ignorant to the ways in which their choice to heed these powerful messages can have an effect on those around them. At the same time, there are people that benefit from this and have the power and money to make sure that the conditions that breed poverty and ignorance are reinforced. These are the people who say, may own a record company but own shares in a television network that may portray people of color in a negative way. The same people have of course the power to lobby politicians to get legislation that helps their bottom line. In the end, it’s not only personal responsibility, and the environment itself, but the people who control, monitor and manipulate that environment as well

  • Gina Wild

    I believe most young kids today do know about about the “Dear Mama”, “Brenda’s got a baby”, and “Keep Your Head Up”. Well at least the kids I come in contact with in my social circle.

    Nas has substance in a lot of his music but his beat selection could be better, and imo he’s sometimes off-beat. He doesn’t always rides the beat well. The lyrical content, the production, the song structure and the hook all play a big role on how a song is perceived.

    Anyway, the exchange between Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco is mature and engaging.

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