NPR : Tell Me More

Why Lupe Fiasco 'Can't Pledge Allegiance' To The Flag

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Rapper, activist and entrepreneur Lupe Fiasco has just released his fourth studio album, Food and Liquor Part II: The Great American Rap Album Part I. The Chicago-born rapper skated onto the music scene in 2006 with his hit single "Kick, Push." Since then, he's stayed true to the unique, hard-hitting lyrics that propelled him to stardom.

Food and Liquor is a return to the content, depth and art of rap, according to Lupe Fiasco, and on the album he tackles some controversial topics, including his decision to not pledge allegiance to the American flag.

He sat down with Tell Me More guest host Celeste Headlee to discuss his political views and his new music.


Interview Highlights

On pledging allegiance to the flag

"When I was a little kid, actually my whole family — my mother and father — instructed us not to say the pledge of allegiance in school. ... They wanted us to understand fully — fully — not just haphazardly and for the sake of making my teacher happy — they wanted us to understand fully what we were doing at that young age, and what that means, and what America is, and what is your place within that."

On the president and voting

"Barack is at a level where he can't — no matter how much he wants to or how much we want him to — he's not going to come take out our garbage, so to speak. He can't be the garbage man and the president. He can't be the mayor and the alderman. He can't fill all those roles. So I always push for local, local activity on the political scene. I always preach that you have to be active as a citizen no matter what, and some people just voting as an excuse not to do anything."

On violence in Chicago

"Sometimes I do feel hopeless when I look out and scream out through my music, and I scream out through these interviews, and I scream out to people to kind of get their attention back on the things that are meaningful. There's people dying on the streets of Chicago — young people, young men and women who are losing their lives."

On retirement from rap

There have been recent rumors about Lupe Fiasco retiring from rap. He says his next album definitely won't be like anything else he's put out: Think "concept album" and 10-minute tracks.

"I'm definitely retiring from more of the commercial aspects. I'm going to move more into an artspace."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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