Rapper Lupe Fiasco said he would cancel the album he is working on and stop releasing new music after he was accused of anti-Semitism for referencing “dirty Jewish execs” in a newly released freestyle rap.
The lyrics for the song titled “N.E.R.D.” include “Artists gettin’ robbed for their publishing/By dirty Jewish execs who think that it’s alms from the covenant.”
The Anti-Defamation League condemned the lyrics in a statement released Tuesday, calling them “offensive.”
“These lyrics reinforce the anti-Semitic myth of Jewish control of the music industry, a stereotype that has been exploited in recent years by well-known hatemongers,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO. “It is irresponsible for a recording artist to perpetuate the hateful anti-Semitic stereotype of the ‘greedy Jew.’ Even if Lupe Fiasco has concerns about exploitation of his artistic output, it’s deplorable to stigmatize an entire group in response.”
Greenblatt also said: “Fiasco has a well-earned reputation as a highly respected hip-hop artist. At a time when there are significant divisions across the country, we are disappointed that he has not chosen to use his platform and voice to promote a more inclusive message.”
Fiasco spent hours Tuesday night on Twitter debating with fans whether the lyrics were anti-Semitic, finally declaring in a tweet that was only visible to confirmed followers Wednesday: “I get the hint God. Yo Lupe fans it’s been fun and I hope you’ve had fun. I’m officially not releasing anymore music. Albums cancelled.”
He also tweeted: “Getting beat up for telling the truth is not how I plan on spending the rest of life.”
In the tweets, Fiasco defended calling out Jewish executives, saying the ones that cheated him were in fact Jewish. He also asserted that he studied the Torah and visited Auschwitz, proving he is not anti-Semitic. Later he debated via Twitter with Greenblatt.
Later on Wednesday, he started naming the executives he felt had wronged him.
Lupe said Lyor Cohen, Warner Music Group’s former CEO, told him “he may not honor the terms of an existing contract unless I signed a contract which changed the terms of the existing one.”
In another tweet, Lupe called out Craig Kallman, CEO of Atlantic Records to which he is signed, which said Kallman “once negotiated a deal in secret which said I agreed to give away 85% of my pub[lic] rights to the song ‘Airplanes’ to his producers.” He also claimed that “Craig Kallman brought me my 360 deal while I was half-naked recovering from pneumonia in a hotel room in LA. It was surreal.”
When a fan later asked him why these issues were not addressed with the label, Lupe responded: “Because the Jewish lawyer I hired to get me off Atlantic, was more interested in taking 5% of everything I did. He sent a bill for 100k.”
And when asked about the details on what Lupe suggested was an exploitative contract, Lupe said “Yup. Clever right? It was what they would call internally a “Freier’s deal” in Jewish business circles,” a reference to the Hebrew slang term for “sucker,” the height of insult for Israelis.
Fiasco was due to release three albums this year and has delayed the release of all of them.
He also had announced in 2012 that he was going to retire.