November 3, 2011

Hip-hop's most activist star?

U.S. artist Lupe Fiasco talks about issues closest to his heart.

Lupe Fiasco, also known as Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, is a devout Muslim who supports Palestinian rights, and has spoken out against the use of violence.

Although he’s left-leaning and a native of Chicago like Barack Obama, he refused to shake Obama’s hand and later called the U.S. President a terrorist. And while Lupe initially rejected hip-hop because of its vulgarity, he now uses his music to share his politics and ideals with fans.

Lupe is a strong supporter of the Occupy movement, donating tents, making appearances, and promoting the cause while on tour, saying the protest movement will define his generation.

He publicly battled his record company, Atlantic, over the release of his latest album, claiming executives forced him to make a record he didn’t want. The experience, he says, even made him suicidal. When Atlantic announced it would delay the album’s release, he started an online petition to force their hand. Eventually, with almost 30,000 signatures in support of the record, “Lasers” was released.

Lupe grew up on the west side of Chicago. His father was a former member of the left-wing African-American organization, the Black Panthers. He encouraged his son to read as well as learn hand-to-hand combat and weapons training. While Lupe credits his personal success to the strength of his family, he also looks to Islam for guidance.

Lupe joined the show via Skype to take questions from the Stream community.

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