Watch And Learn: Lupe Fiasco’s New Video Aligns Hip-Hop With Minstrel Shows

Are Rappers In Blackface?
Bitch Bad, Woman Good, Lady Better

The song is perfect. The video is perfect. There can be no arguments against this. Lupe Fiasco‘s new video for the Bitch Bad single (off his fourth studio album, Food and Liquor 2: The Great American Album) is here! The song is, lyrically, reminiscent of an older track (Dumb It Down), while the video explores themes we’ve seen in videos from groups like The Roots and Dead Prez. Spike Lee‘s Bamboozled also comes to mind, as Lupe and director Gil Green align modern day black entertainment with the devastating effects of minstrel shows and blackface. Although these aren’t completely new ideas, I think this video comes at an important time, as we only seem to be getting more comfortable with the so-called ‘bad bitch’ title and as people (like me, lol) become more and more desensitized to certain images. Join me in the comments for further deconstruction of this fantastic song!

Food and Liquor 2: The Great American Album hits stores on September 25.

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  1. Ella

    This is why I LOVE Lupe Fiasco. I generally don’t listen to current rap/hip-hop because of the issues he brings up in this song. Living in DC I see the effects of what kids listen to and it’s not good.

    • Ella, Lupe’s really winning my heart. I also saw that MTV interview where he broke down and started talking about his neighborhood, and it was intense. I will always be a fan of rap– contemporary or otherwise– but it’s important that we really think about hip-hop as a whole which does include children and the influence we have on them.

    • Ella

      I’d like to see the interview, Shannon. Have you got a link handy? I’ve been a fan since Kick Push. The video and lyrics were all so refreshing…like meeting a smart, cute guy and having a real conversation with him in an overly loud club full of douches, bad music, and half-dressed drunk girls.

    • Ella

      Aaaaand I love him even more now. It’s so heartening to have someone from a place so rough putting music out there that’s meant to inspire, meant to make us think, and meant to make those who are still trapped strive to escape towards something better. Thanks Shannon!

    • Ella

      Also, lol, I love that he was like the hood is bullsh*t, instead of glorifying it and seeming proud of it. Not to say that all rap artists are proud of the violence. But, you look at guys who grew up in the suburbs dressing and acting “hard” and to me the fact that that is what people are taking away from the music means the music isn’t sending the right message.
      I think the world would be a better place if we had more artists like Lupe Fiasco out there.

  2. Lexie

    Wow, this is really thought-provoking. I have more been in favor of taking the idea of what a bitch is and owning it (ala Nicky Minaj/Tina Fey — “bitches get stuff done”), but I like how he talks about ALL the misconceptions of the word.

    • Lexie, I’ve taken a similar approach to this kind of language and, sometimes, it works and is appropriate. But I love that Lupe is also challenging the idea that we can re-define a negative word. Perhaps the word is never ‘just a word’– so many images come along with it. He’s right on a lot of levels about this one.

      Thanks for commenting, Lexie.

  3. Jen

    I love this! Younger people seem so lost in these stereotypes. This year our school decided to make respecting youself the campaign for the year. We started by creating a dress code that doesn’t allow anything above the knee or showing any skin up top. Like the video, the girls have been so scantily clad (why stores sell those things/parents allow them to be bought is another fight for another day), and have really adopted that “bad bitch” persona. They guys have treated them accordingly. We are a week into it, and the transformation has almost been night and day. Once the girls knew they couldn’t be naked, and didn’t have to act like sexpots, the whole atmosphere of the classroom and the school changed. The guys attitudes changed as well. It’s been pretty amazing to see how something as small as making the girls wear jeans and tshirts vs. minishorts and tanktops has refocused everyone’s energy. I am not hating on my girls , it just seems like the guys play to that playboy/manwhore stereotype the more skin the girls show…in a cyclical kind of way.

    • Jen, wow! What a great comment… I know a lot of people are against dress codes, but I think you’re bringing up a lot of good points. It’s hard for people to admit that in many cases men react to the image a woman puts out there. This argument, unfortunately, finds its way into rape cases and ridiculous stuff like that which is NOT okay. And at the same time, it’s absolutely true that the way a young woman dresses can effect how others see her and– most importantly– speaks to her own sense of worth and to her character. The same goes for men, but the issues are not quite the same. Still, we can all be attractive AND intelligent AND demand (and earn) respect. And still have a good time doing it. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jen!

  4. The man’s a genius and he’s doing very positive things. I have high hopes for The Great American Rap Album and I hope it lives up to my expectations on 9/25.

    But I think I like this song better than Dumb It Down, so this is a good start!

    • Erica, I agree. Dumb it Down feels a little forced; this song is (to me) beautiful even as it is political or socially concerned. Team Lupe, all day ;)

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