Lupe Fiasco has, for a while now, been one of my favorite rappers. I’ve loved his impressive wordplay and his clever lyrics, his amazing storytelling and sick flow. And for a little bit, I considered myself a Lupe stan. He could do no wrong in my eyes. Food & Liquor is a masterpiece. The Cool is probably my favorite album of all time. I pretend that Lasers (an album that was released, ultimately to appease his record label…he distances himself from that record every chance he gets…) never happened. And I, like the rest of the Lupe stans out there, anxiously waited for the announcement of when he would be releasing his next album,Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album.
I came across the lead single from the new release off his Facebook page.
The song, “Bitch Bad” is definitely a conversation starter: Lupe tells the story of how two young individuals define the phrase “bad bitch.” A young man heard his mother use it while rapping along to a song. He loves his mother; she takes care of him, and raises him well, so he associates “bad bitch” with women who are like his mother.
A young woman comes across the phrase while watching uncensored rap videos online without parental supervision. To her, being a “bad bitch” is to be like the women seen in those ‘raunchy’ rap music videos: they’re beautiful women who have caught the attention of powerful men in the music industry. She sees the video vixens as role models because of all they were able to achieve, and begins to call herself a “bad bitch,” in hopes of aspiring to their success.
The two eventually meet, and don’t particularly hit it off. They both have two different meanings of the phrase.
The chorus is where the cognitive dissonance starts for me. I can’t enjoy the song as much as I’d like to, nor can I hop onto the message that Lupe attempts to expose because he raps:
“ ‘Bitch’ bad, ‘woman’ good
‘Lady’ better, they misunderstood…”
And in the last verse, he even goes so far as to say, “…greatest: ‘motherhood’.”
While the discourse could be interesting (I can identify with his praise of motherhood, while still acknowledging how problematic it is to suggest that all women aspire to become mothers), especially considering the political climate with regards to Black womanhood, his assertion goes hand in hand with the larger “virgin-whore” dichotomy that is so pervasive in our society. Black women are particularly under such scrutiny.