Lupe Fiasco visits Xavier to talk with Mannie Fresh about his career and his new single, "Bitch Bad."
"I thought 'fiasco' meant something else."
Rapper Lupe Fiasco was explaining his stage name to hip-hop producer Mannie Fresh at The 2-Cent Sessions, his interviewer at a forum at Xavier University Wednesday organized by New Orleans' 2-Cent Entertainment. The admission was funny, but it but stood out later when the lyrics revealed how much he'd grown. His new single, "Bitch Bad," critiques the word "bitch," focusing on how dependent the word is on its context to determine if it's positive or negative, then pointing out what happens when contexts collide. In it, he uses "malleable" and "acquiescent," but he didn't know Fiasco?
In the two-hour session, he talked at length about his efforts to balance his purely artistic side with commercial demands, and he was openly frustrated by the latter. When asked about the songs the he thought represented him best, Fiasco identified "Double Burger with Cheese," "Failure" and "Form Follows Function" from his upcoming Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1. On those tracks, he said, "I've touched the bottom of rapper's heaven." He then observed that first two of those tracks were released on mixtapes, not official releases.
He was critical about the state of mainstream hip-hop, as he has been on a number of occasions when doing press for the upcoming album. "Now it's about vanity, misogyny and violence," he told the full house in the Xavier University Ballroom. "It all sounds the same." He identified a few artists including Kendrick Lamar who he thought were noteworthy, but "the commercial spice is very vanilla. A bad vanilla," he said.
After an interlude for the song "Bitch Bad," two sofas were brought to stage and Fiasco and Mannie Fresh were joined onstage by a number of guests including rapper Mia X and Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University. They engaged in a wide-ranging panel discussion surrounding the word "bitch." Mia X reminded the audience that as a young girl in Sunday School, she was taught to hate women starting with Eve. "Not the rapper; Adam's Eve," she said. "'Bitch' started before rap."
Being the featured guest, Lupe Fiasco got the last word: "If the people don't want it to change, it won't change."