Grammy-nominated rapper and Chicago native Lupe Fiasco was escorted from the stage during a Sunday night inaugural event in Washington, D.C., after delivering some Anti-Obama lyrics. And now the organizers behind the event -- Start Up Rock On -- are claiming he wasn't booted for his stance on the president.
Lupe Fiasco was performing his controversial song "Words I Never Said" (see our previous coverage of the song) at a place called Hamilton Live, and based on some of his lyrics, you might expect the rapper to be quite popular with the audience celebrating Obama's second inauguration.
As one line says: "Rush Limbaugh is a racist/Glenn Beck is a racist."
However, in the very next line he made some disparaging comments about President Obama and admitted to not voting for him in the past election and promising not to vote for him in the most recent one:
Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn't say sh*t. That's why I ain't vote for him, next one either...
Video posted online show that security guards eventually took to the stage and forced the rapper off the stage. There are several edits to the video, but as one concert-goer points out, the song did go long: "So Lupe played one anti-war song for 30 min and said he didn’t vote for Obama and eventually was told to move on to the next song.”
The video edits appear to be to show the song's length and the eventual escorting-off:
(Content warning - graphic language)
Despite the video, event organizers are placing the blame on Fiasco (something Josh Rogin of the popular Cable blog on foreign policy suggests, too). The first response statement as posted on ViralRead.com:
Lupe Fiasco performed at this private event, and as you may have read, he left the stage earlier than we had planned. But Lupe Fiasco was not “kicked off stage” for an “anti-Obama rant.” We are staunch supporters of free speech, and free political speech. This was not about his opinions. Instead, after a bizarrely repetitive, jarring performance that left the crowd vocally dissatisfied, organizers decided to move on to the next act.
That statement is not totally true or totally false. Fiasco did leave earlier than planned (at the insistence of the hulking security guards), but the audience sounds like they appreciated his performance. Still, it does insinuate that Fiasco's comments about Obama had nothing to do with his exit.
Almost immediately, Twitter was pulsing with tweets from people in the audience who were not pleased with the way Lupe Fiasco's freedom of speech was handled. Hashtags #LupeFiasco and #StartUpRockOn were trending online instantly and for hours. There were also conflicting opinions from the event. Some seemed to support the rapper's right to his opinion, while others did not.
HyperVocal one of the founding groups behind StartUp RockOn) tried to do damage control via Twitter:
Mr. Fiasco (not really his name) has not exactly kept his feelings about President Obama in the closet. Back in 2011, he called the President a "terrorist" during an interview with CBS News:
“My fight against terrorism, to me, the biggest terrorist is Obama and the United States of America.”
Despite making that statement and despite the controversy over the performance, as of this morning he is still featured on the group's website as the headliner of last night's show.