Hip-hop rabble-rouser Lupe Fiasco kick-pushed himself out of a paying gig Sunday night when he offended his corporate sponsors after what can only be described as a musical protest against the Obama administration at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C.
The event was supposed to be a celebration of startups and innovation. Fiasco took the stage about 11 p.m. and performed “Words I Never Said” for more than 30 minutes before being escorted off stage.
The lyrics he repeated without stopping were:
“I really think the War on Terror is a bunch of bullshit/Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets/How much money does it take to really make a full clip/9/11, building seven, did they really pull it?/Uh, and a bunch of cover ups /Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts/If you think that hurts, then wait, here comes the upper cut/The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up/Keep you at the bottom and then tease you with the upper crust/You get it, then they move it, so you never keeping up enough/If you turn on the TV, all you see’s a buncha ‘What the f—-?’/Dude is dating so and so, blabbering ’bout such and such/And that ain’t the Jersey Shore, homey, that’s the news/And these same people supposedly telling us the truth/Limbaugh’s a racist, Glenn Beck’s a racist/Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit/That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either/I’m part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful/And I believe in the people”
“Lupe Fiasco performed at this private event, and as you may have read, he left the stage earlier than we had planned,” the StartUp RockOn organizers said in an official statement. “But Lupe Fiasco was not ‘kicked off stage’ for an ‘anti-Obama rant.’ 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.”
This is what happened: Fiasco repeated “Words I Never Said” on a loop and the band rocked out with him. After 20 minutes, people began muttering that the superstar was repeating himself. After a half-hour, they started leaving the venue. People began shouting and booing the singer saying his protest was disrespectful during President Barack Obama’s inaugural weekend.
Eventually, one event planner went up on stage to ask the artist to sing another track. Fiasco, presumably, demurred. His microphone was cut. Then someone killed the lights. Then security showed Fiasco off the stage.
A quick glance at the VIP section — where event sponsors insurance giant AFLAC, Heineken Corporation, Microsoft and Consumer Electronics Association were sitting — showed that this group was shocked and angry.
“They should have let him play. This event is about creativity and free speech,” one CEA employee said.
An AFLAC employee, however, said he was taken aback by the performance, noting he heard Fiasco was asked to leave the stage repeatedly and refused to stop before he was was escorted off and all hell broke loose.
“Fiasco dogged Obama the whole time,” said Fred Humphries, Microsoft’s vice president of government relations.
At that point, a StartUp RockOn spokesman said after the artist had left the stage: “We’re sorry Lupe Fiasco couldn’t be with us tonight.”
According to sources, StartUp RockOn has stopped payments on Fiasco’s check.
In a statement on Twitter, HyperVocal, one of the three groups that makes up StartUp RockOn, tweeted: “Disappointed that an artist took [this] opportunity to use an event celebrating innovation/startups to make a political statement.”
Fiasco made headlines in 2011 when he criticized Obama, calling the president a “terrorist.”