Lupe Fiasco, the Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum-selling musician, was removed from the stage at an official pre-inauguration concert Saturday while he was performing “Words I Never Said,” an anti-war song.
Amid the scripted, self-congratulatory celebrations and parties surrounding the 2013 presidential inauguration, the first sign of political opposition was treated as a criminal act and suppressed by security guards.
The artist’s decision to perform the song—which denounces militarism, the attack on democratic rights, and austerity—in addition to being an act of personal courage, echoes the sentiments of millions of people in their opposition to the policies of the Obama administration.
The song, the second single from Lupe Fiasco’s third studio album, Lasers, is a denunciation of the “war on terror” and ongoing attacks on democratic rights.
The lyrics include: “I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullshit,
Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets.”
It relates the expansion of war to austerity policies and the attack on democratic rights, proclaiming: “Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts.”
It then moves on to a denunciation of Obama:
“Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit
That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either
I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
And I believe in the people”
These lyrics were apparently too much for the concert’s organizers, who tried to stop the song, and, when the artist refused, he was kicked off stage, despite the fact that he was the headliner and his image was used as the main promotional material of the concert. Not only was he stopped from playing, but was escorted out of the venue.
HyperVocal, one of the companies organizing the event, tacitly acknowledged the political motivation for suppressing the performance shortly afterwards on Twitter. “Disappointed that an artist took opportunity to use an event celebrating innovation/startups to make a political statement,” the company’s tweet read.
Later, seemingly having become conscious of the widespread anger provoked by their action, the concert’s organizers issued an official statement claiming that he was not “kicked off stage” for an “anti-Obama rant.” They hypocritically added: “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.”
“Put hope in the people not in these false hope criminals that run this world.”
In performing the song and resisting the attempts to silence it, Lupe Fiasco gave expression to the growing popular hostility toward the Obama administration, which is increasingly identified with drone assassinations and the assault on democratic and social rights