Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Power of Fans

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time without internet and cellphones, there were many protests against the the social and political injustices of the Vietnam war. It was also an era that gave birth to some of the most famous musicians such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones.

Fast forward to now, 4 decades later, a time where the majority of people use cellphones and computer on a daily basis. A time where the technology and the internet has empowered the people; empowered the fans. In a pop culture era where big record labels and mainstream media encourage their artist and their fans, to accept monotonous music as the norm instead of encouraging opinions and creativity, one artist made a difference.

Lupe Fiasco, whose real name is Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, rose to fame in 2006 following the success of his Grammy Award nominated debut album, Food & Liquor. His father's Black Panther ideology has influenced Lupe, and can be heard in many of his music as he speaks about social injustices, and never dumbing down his own opinions, but the record labels were only satisfied with that, which lead to his 3rd album, Lasers, being delayed for 2 years.

His fans weren't pleased with that, and through an internet forum, they began discussing what they could do. As the fans became more restless, the ideas to make the record label release Lupe's album began to grow. In 2 months, an online petition was signed by 28 thousand fans, yet the record label didn't respond. Never giving up, the fans went on twitter and created #FiascoFriday, a hashtag for the protest they planned on October 15th, 2010. Lupe Fiasco himself became involved and twitted that if the fans will be there, then so will he. What was meant as a protest, became a celebration for the hundreds of fans who showed up in New York, after record label finally gave an official release day for Lupe's album.

In an interview, Lupe said that it was an "amazing, humbling, and inspiring" experience to know "that your music is actually something that people want. And it's something that is successful, not in selling records, but the way it moves people and inspires them to do better for themselves."

When the fans were asked "Why don't you protest something that's really worth it? Child hunger, poverty, or whatever." The response was, "You listen to Lupe Fiasco’s music, that's what he talks about. He addresses that." When music is allowed to be creative, it will empower the fans.

"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 7 did they really pull it
Uhh, And a bunch of other cover ups
Your childs future was the first to go with budget cuts
If you think that hurts then, wait here comes the uppercut
The school was garbage in the first place, thats on the up and up"


  1. I like the connection you made not only to fans' voice in getting the LP released, but also the fact that there are some musicians who feel that they themselves can and should address important issues in their work.

    The petition for the release of the LP is of course a very democratic process, which then makes me think of countries which purposely block SNS sites like Facebook etc. I think it may not seem to have a political slant initially but in reality even pop culture could very well be politically-charged this way.

  2. Thank you for this well written account of one musician's use of a twitter hashtag. I like the way you've mixed images and video in with your text. The formatting of this post is quite attractive.

    I think there are two areas where this post could have been improved.

    One would have been to provide a deeper level of analysis into Lupe Fiasco's social media strategy. For instances you might have mentioned about his recent freestyle exploits on twitter.

    The second would have been to provide evidence of some level of investigation and research such as the link I provided above. It only took me 5 minutes to track down the article, read it and put the link in my comment.