9/11 conspiracy theories have been around since the tragedy itself, but do people really believe it was an inside job?
Here, Lupe Fiasco indulges himself in just one such theory: the proposed conspiracy surrounding "building seven," a smaller skyscraper next to the two famous World Trade Center towers that were destroyed by a hijacked plane on September 11, 2001. The 7 World Trade Center building was apparently hit by debris from the plane crash, which in turn ignited fires that eventually led to the complete collapse of the building. To conspiracy theorists, the science is questionable; they propose instead that explosives were planted inside the 7 World Trade Center and possibly inside the two towers as well. Those who believe that the planes were not the only cause of the destruction generally think that the U.S. government was somehow responsible for the attacks, either by knowingly allowing them, or by participating in a plot. They believe that the event would then become a justification for the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That's ridiculous, right? Doesn't everybody and their mother know that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were responsible for the 9/11 attacks? Well, actually, not everyone feels so sure about that. Theories about U.S. and Israeli knowledge of or involvement in the 9/11 attacks began to emerge soon after the event, though they gained far more traction in Europe and the Middle East than in the U.S. In 2008, a seventeen-country poll showed a striking mixture of beliefs about the origins of the 9/11 attacks. On average, only 46 percent of those polled believed that Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks; 15 percent believed it was in fact the U.S. government, and 25 percent just stuck with "we're not sure." Lupe Fiasco insinuates something like unsure-ness here. His views may be controversial, but he's not alone.
In late 2008, Israel initiated a series of bombings—now known as the Gaza War—in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
Although President Obama's election actually occurred before the Gaza War of late 2008 and early 2009 (Obama was president-elect at the time; George W. Bush still held office), Lupe Fiasco is referring generally to Obama's policy and views on Israel and Palestine. Obama maintained a close U.S. alliance with Israel as a center of his proposed foreign policy. Even so, by the new election season leading up to 2012, Obama was under fire from some for not being supportive enough of Israel.
He has also been under fire from the other end. From Fiasco's perspective, for example, the Gaza War, which killed over 1,200 Palestinians (and only 13 Israelis), was an absolute foreign policy no-no. He thought that Obama should have spoken out against the Israeli bombings. Obama was silent on the topic, and George Bush's office tried to distance itself from that particular war. For Fiasco, the matter goes beyond measuring one war against another; he opposes all war, no matter the justification. His feeling on this is so strong that he says he didn't vote for Obama in 2008. And he won't be voting for Obama in 2012, either: in 2011 he called Obama "a terrorist" in response to Obama’s foreign policy.
Many people incorrectly assume that the translation of the Arabic word jihad is "Holy War."
Actually, jihad as a concept is more readily translated as "struggle" than "Holy War" (a term that originated in Christian texts several hundred years before the birth of Islam). In many Muslim traditions, jihad is understood as a personal struggle: the daily struggle of finding God (Allah). The concept of jihad is primarily internal, exercised through prayer and other forms of personal religious practice. Jihad can also be verbal, something akin to "preaching the gospel" in Christianity. The understanding of jihad as physical struggle for the religion of Islam is the third and probably the least common understanding. When Lupe asks, "where's that in the worship?" he questions both Muslims who have a pro-violence take on jihad and non-Muslims who assume—quite falsely—that jihad interpreted as Holy War is a basic principle of the religion. Lupe Fiasco, whose given name is Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, is himself a passionate Muslim, so he’s speaking from experience on this one.
But heck, it can't hurt to listen, either.
In his day, 2Pac was adored for his socially conscious, righteously angry, and sometimes violent and vituperative lyrics. After dying a young death in a still-unsolved murder, he became emblematic of the tragic losses of the hip-hop world and the oppression and violence hip-hop is so often tasked with describing and responding to. To Lupe, the point here is that listening to 2Pac's touching songs and mourning his loss isn't enough to change the social conditions still faced by many hip-hop fans fifteen years later. Rap and hip-hop fans need to be politically active and take a stance regarding current social issues, not just drink Hennessy by the pool with their homies.