(MintPress) — Rapper Lupe Fiasco was escorted off the stage at a pre-inauguration celebration in Washington, D.C. Sunday night after criticizing the president during a 30-minute rendition of “Words I Never Said.”
And while Fiasco and supporters claimed it was an act of muzzling free speech, the Hamilton Live Inaugural Celebration’s organizer, StartUp RockOn, claims it was because the rapper was delivering a poor performance, citing the unusually long song.
The event, organizers said, was intended to show support for internet startups and celebrate the accomplishments achieved. In an online description of the pre-inaugural concert, organizations describe it as event that embodies the passion, energy and excitement that defines its culture.
Fiasco’s performance didn’t meet those standards, according to StartUp RockOn.
“Lupe Fiasco was not ‘kicked off stage’ for an ‘anti-Obama rant,’” the company said in a statement. “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.”
So, what exactly did he say?
“Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is 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 a part of the problem; my problem is I’m peaceful.”
Following the incident, Twitter blew up with claims the rapper had been removed from the stage after his anti-Obama rap.
“So Lupe played one anti-war song for 30 min and said he didn’t vote for Obama and eventually was told to move on to the next song. Lupe refused to move to the next song so a team of security guards came on stage and told him to go,” tweeted Foreign Policy reporter Josh Rogin, who was at the event.
Fiasco’s reputation doesn’t exactly include a clean slate when it comes to criticism of the president and U.S. government. The song performed Sunday night wasn’t a surprise, either, as it’s considered his lead single from his 2011 album, “Lasers.” The lyrics he rapped that night had already been made known.
Considering Fiasco was clearly the headliner for the event, wouldn’t organizers have already known that he was likely to perform such politically motivated songs? It turns out some sponsors didn’t see it coming. Hypervocal, one of the event’s financial supporters, issued this tweet on the incident: “Disappointed that an artist took opportunity to use an event celebration innovation/startups to make a political statement.”