Lupe Fiasco & Guy Sebastian

Lupe Fiasco can be kind of a putz* sometimes, but I like the guy.  I really like his new song:

It’s got a good chorus sung by Guy Sebastian, another entry into my running contest of “Who Will Be the Guy Who Finally Dethrones Chris Brown as the Young R & B Singer Everyone Wants on Their Record?”  So far Guy hasn’t, to my knowledge, punched any women in the face, so Chris will probably remain on top.

What’s interesting to me about this song is how Lupe is using war references in what appears to be a love song

On the front line with a poem
Trying to write yourself a rifle
Maybe sharpen up a stone
To fight the tanks and drones of you being alone

So is he using war to talk about love, or love to talk about war?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it’s both.

I’ve thought a lot about how to put politics in songs.  I’ve even written a few songs with political lyrics in them.  And they always end up being the songs that I get tired of the quickest.  Writing a song about politics is walking a very fine line.  It has to be universal enough so that people can project some of their own ideas on to it- The Man in Black, but not so universal that it ends up with no meaning at all- What’s Going On? or, worst of all, gets co-opted into something the singer never really meant**- Born in the USA.

Or to put it more bluntly- if Paul Ryan can claim he loves Rage Against the Machine, one side of that relationship has fucked up.

Or not.  I’m too old (though younger than Paul Ryan) to listen to angry shouting-at-the-man music anymore.  I just can’t.

So I mainly stick to writing love songs, but maybe Lupe has created a clever new paradigm here.  We’ll see.


*Not because his song was anti-Obama- I try not to let my political views color my song critiques- but because we played one song FOR THIRTY FUCKING MINUTES.  No audience deserves that.  Except for audiences that, inexplicably, ask for that sort of song.

**I’ve long thought that Bruce knew exactly what he was doing with that song- ca$hing in.  He put all that stuff about Vietnam vets in there to preserve some plausible deniability for what he must have known would be taken as a huge patriotic anthem.  Which is fine by me- if I were trying to make a living at music I’d cash in myself every now and then.


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