Cultural Arts Review: Rapper Lupe Fiasco Defying Muslim Stereotypes

Posted on December 5, 2012 by


Andrew Vold, Cultural Arts Review

Earlier this year, muslim rapper Lupe Fiasco released critically acclaimed album “Food and Liquor II”.  With a breakout song titled, “Bitch Bad”, Lupe Fiasco seems to be affirming many stereotypes.  There is a theme among most popular rap artists of objectifying women in their music.  When it comes to the status of women in Islam, there is a popular stereotype saying that Muslims treat women poorly.  In much of the Middle East, the region of the world most commonly associated with Islam, women are indeed treated as second class citizens and do not share the same rights as men.  Strangely, in Lupe’s new breakout song, “Bitch Bad”, Fiasco raps about the hip-hop genre instilling misogynistic stereotypes in its audience.

The first thoughts that popped into my head when I saw the title of Lupe’s latest song, “Not another hip-hop song conveying negative stereotypes about women”.  Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked play.  In the first verse of the song, Lupe raps:

“Now imagine there’s a shawty, maybe five maybe four
Ridin’ ’round with his mama listening to the radio
And a song comes on and a not far off from being born
Doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong
Now I ain’t trying to make it too complex
But let’s just say shawty has an undeveloped context
About the perception of women these days
His mama sings along and this what she says
“N****s I’m a bad bitch, and I’m bad bitch
far above average”
And maybe other rhyming words like cabbage and savage
And baby carriage and other things that match it
Couple of things that are happenin’ here
First he’s relatin’ the word “bitch” with his mama, comma
And because she’s relatin’ to herself, his most important source of help,
And mental health, he may skew respect for dishonor”

In a recent interview on NBC’s “Nitecap”, Lupe discussed writing lyrics with consciousness.  Addressing artists who write lyrics to fit in with the perceived rap culture, Lupe said, “A lot of the most ignorant music that people make sometimes, [those artists] can amass a fortune and then turn around and write a check and write away the ills of the community they grew up in”.  Lupe is condemning typical rappers that don’t care about the negative impact they are having on society.  Instead of coming out with a song that induces negative stereotypes about women to its listeners, Lupe does the exact opposite in “Bad Bitch”.  Lupe Fiasco sends out a message that referring to women as “bad bitches” in rap songs is perpetuating negative stereotypes about women in society.

As a Muslim, Lupe Fiasco is proving that misogynism is not something that should be attributed to the Islamic faith.  In previous interviews, Lupe has mentioned his faith as something that is a huge influence in his music.  The title of his album, “Food & Liquor”, is almost entirely attributed to Lupe being a Muslim.  Food & Liquor was meant to represent a contrast between good and bad.  Food, he says, is obviously a good thing.  Because of negative experiences Lupe saw growing up involving alcohol and because Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol, Lupe calls alcohol bad.

Lupe Fiasco has used his Islamic faith as a very important influence to his life in the rap scene.  Although rap music and Islam are typically associated with negative connotations of women, Lupe Fiasco has used his music in an effort to reverse stereotypes.  The song, “Bitch Bad”, is the perfect example of Lupe changing the game.


Posted in: Islam