Stray Shots: The Betrayal Of Lil Terio & The Misinterpretation Of Lupe Fiasco

This week "Black Twitter" sacrificed Lil Terio to the altar of cruel Internet memes, and Lupe Fiasco made provocative comments about Drake, Kendrick Lamar and his desire to enter the ratchet zone.

Once upon a time in a universe far, far away, HipHopDX used to host blogs. Through Meka, Brillyance, Aliya Ewing and others, readers got unfiltered opinions on the most current topics in and beyond Hip Hop. After a few years, a couple redesigns and the collective vision of three different Editors-In-Chief, blogs are back. Sort of. Since our blog section went the way of two-way pagers and physical mixtapes, Twitter, Instagram and Ustream have further accelerated the pace of current events in Hip Hop. Rappers beef with each other 140 characters at a time, entire mixtapes (and their associated artwork) can be released via Instagram, and sometimes these events require a rapid reaction.

As such, we’re reserving this space for a weekly reaction to Hip Hop’s current events. Or whatever else we deem worthy. And the “we” in question is myself, Omar Burgess and Andre Grant. Collectively we serve as HipHopDX’s Features Staff. Aside from tackling stray topics, we may invite artists and other personalities in Hip Hop to join the conversation. Without further delay, here are this week’s “Stray Shots.”

Lil Terio Dances & The Internet Attacks

Omar: I don’t really have politically correct, articulate way to start off this edition of Stray Shots. The proliferation of Terio memes and tweets from earlier this week was fucked up. On a surface level, I can understand why people got a brief kick out of throwing around names like “Just Glaze” and “Meek Meal.” Despite numbers from the Journal of the American Medicine Association indicating one third of Americans (34%) are obese, the entertainment industry has been laughing at overweight celebrities since the days of Laurel and Hardy. The other element—the one which should have given the Twitterverse’s self-appointed peanut gallery pause—is that Terio is a six-year-old child. And in an age where everyone claims to be more enlightened about exploitation and “cyber bullying,” people started going in on Terio disgustingly quickly. I get it: fat people reveling in their own jolly awkwardness has historically been funny. But kids are supposed to be off limits.

At the risk of resuming my weekly role of Chris Rock’s SNL character Nat X, it’s foul how most of the people tweeting Terio missed the obvious layers of racism and exploitation hiding underneath his dancing Vine/Instagram memes. There’s at least one adult cashing in on Terio. Yeah, it’s physical comedy, and kids say the darndest things. But I’ve always thought physical comedy was a touchy subject in the black community (and if you want to revisit Oprah Winfrey and the late Luther Vandross’ annual fluctuating weight struggles of the ‘80s, so is health). Jim Carey can flop on the floor and make crazy faces, and he’s regarded as a comedic genius. When black actors and comedians do the same, there’s always the threat of being accused of cooning. There’s a thin, black line of burned cork between Flip Wilson and Madea. So Terio feels like the intersection of all these issues. And instead of someone in his family saying, “Maybe we should fall back and let this six-year-old enjoy the benefits of being a normal first-grader,” they seem to be content cashing the checks. Is he the black Honey Boo Boo? Is Twitter magnifying how differently child exploitation plays across class and race lines? Maybe. All I know is the shit I saw on Twitter the other night felt disgusting. I was just waiting for someone to sync one of his Vine clips up to “My Old Kentucky Home.” It’s amazing how easy it is to either participate in your own exploitation or cheer on someone else’s 140 characters at a time.

Andre: “Terio’s that kid that dances on the Internet, right?” My mother asked me this yesterday when she called to check up on how her boy was handling life six modern hours away. And that’s when it hit me, Terio is a walking meme. He’s transcended Vine and become someone even my mother knows about. Twitter had been threatening to jump the shark for years, and it finally, FINALLY was. It was slandering, thematically, a child—and it was glorious… kind of. At first I chuckled to myself in some public present the web had snatched me from. Namaste to that, right? But the merciless slander of this child who was, arguably, living all our little boy and little girl fantasies to their zenith was beginning to approach voodoo level group magic. I added the search term “Terio” to a column in Tweetdeck and I waited.

That thing scrolled like slot machines in Vegas. It was too much to read, never mind keep up with, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were really making fun of ourselves. That for all the reproach this kid’s success had gotten, it was fueled by the very people that now admonished him, publicly, for doing what they wanted him to: entertain them. So now that he was on stage rocking out with the incredible confidence only the very, very young can have (and Kanye, of course), he was slaughtered because we wouldn’t have done that. Our six year old selves would freeze up, or we’d miss our friends, or we’d want to go back to school, and god knows what that kid is telling his cousin who’s “Ohh kill em’” began this whole fiasco in innocence except to say that we all bullied the hell out a newer human because they were more successful than us. Because we’ve been in a recession for five years, and we can’t pay our student loans, and we know deep in our hearts that we lack that childhood thing—stolen or robbed, that would allow us to express ourselves in that way. It’s also true that reality is morphing around us, and we still can’t say what the Internet and hyper-connectivity age has done to us. But we can be sure that adults are now as terrible as the children we ran away from. And, now, our cruelty is just as banal.

Will The Real Lupe Fiasco Please Stand Up?

Omar: When we look back at the first two decades of the aughts, Lupe Fiasco might be one of the most fascinating Hip Hop artists, and that statement has very little to do with his actual music. His recent rants stand out to me as a reminder that artists in any medium can rarely (if ever) pick their audience. I’m not a Lupe stan, so I don’t know how much Lupe’s original G’d up material like “Pop, Pop” factored into his initial appeal. But it does appear Mr. Jaco has gone through several incarnations. It seems the guy who endeared himself to the backpack set in 2006 with Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor wasn’t necessarily aiming for that audience. And so, we got The Cool—a Grammy nominated album with a platinum single. And I suppose it was all good until Lupe started beefing with Atlantic, blamed them for LASERS extremely Pop direction and benefitted from his most radio-friendly look to date; “The Show Goes On” is certified as triple platinum and peaked at the #9 spot amid a 33-week run on Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100” singles chart.

All of that is to say, I genuinely don’t know how to reconcile all the elements of Lupe’s career. He appeals to backpackers but seemingly rejected them by taking shots at A Tribe Called Quest following his 2007 Hip Hop Honors performance. He’s embraced artists like Trae and 8Ball & MJG but has engaged in Twitter debates with Talib Kweli about the impact of “negative” Rap lyrics. He’s presented what I think are some convincing opinions about the futility of America’s two-party political system and Barack Obama as the first sitting US President of the drone strike era. But the latter two arguments have been so poorly articulated that Lupe has undercut his own credibility. Sometimes I can’t tell if he embodies the human contradiction in all of us or he’s just deliberately trying to piss us off to make a point...while promoting a new album. None of the above change the fact that I think he can still rap really well and has a large quantifiably measurable audience. In theory, rappers should be able to contradict themselves (like Nas), change the trajectory of their artistic direction (like Jay Z), talk shit about their peers (like 50 Cent) and debate with Bill O’Reilly (like Cam’ron). But the more Lupe has done all of the above, the less interest I have in his music. And I have no logical explanation for those feelings. I guess I’m contradicting myself here, which should make Lupe Fiasco’s music all the more endearing to me. Somehow it’s had the opposite effect.

Andre: Lupe Fiasco has always been on a mission, albeit a mission no one can actually conceptualize but Lupe himself. With his first album, Food & Liquor, he was pushing against the idea that black kids faced with poverty, drugs, and decay can’t be sensitive and intelligent. It worked extremely well, and, in the modern era—along with Kanye West—created lanes for the Kendricks and the Drakes to thrive with personal, introspective narratives. His second album, The Cool, is arguably the height of his creative story arc and it directly coincided with the darkest period of his life. His father passed away. His business partner, Chilli, was sentenced to 44 years in prison. His friend, Stack Bundles, was shot in the lobby of his building in Far Rockaway. His album, however, ended up being an opus of big and often muddled ideas clashing with each other. Of course it was. It was the beginning of the Facebook era wherein we would find that what Lupe was saying from the get go was true: There was more information out there and, most of the time, it made us care even less. But there were “Little Weapons” in Africa as images of slaughter doled out by children on the dark continent filled our cable Internet fetishes. We were worried about our “Gold Watch” and gold chain instead of doing anything about anything as our people floundered in ignorance. And, to his credit, he actually made a pretty self-serving video called “Dumb It Down” where he slandered black folks for being less than what they could be.

Whatever he said (and whenever he said it), his heart seemed to always be in the right place. But things never quite gelled for the man the way I hoped it would. I was kind of imagining some shooting star persona finally taking over as Lupe became the first Rap Buddha. He would find a way to be compassionate about the plight of the most underrepresented people in the history of the world while making passionate Hip Hop that united the backpackers and the thugs and the sensitive kids alike. I mean, he seemed to be a venn diagram of all three. I wanted him to become the Barack Obama of Hip Hop. But as my over the moon expectations showed their illusory nature, so did Lupe’s ability to pull those worlds together. The truth is, no one should have to do that. I wouldn’t have asked that of Kanye or Talib or the artist formerly known as Mos Def, but Lupe seemed to have all these disparate traits fighting for dominance all the time and all at once. Ideas are tricky things though, and sometimes a medium isn’t quite fit to convey certain very nuanced points. For Lupe, that manifested itself in public. He went after everything and everyone with a zeal unmatched for a while, but all the conversations seemed to leave him remiss about humans in general. Now, it feels like he’s trolling us. What the hell is “Drizzy’s Law?” Oh, is it not okay that women like to be catered to in Hip Hop as well? What the hell is telling Rosenberg to get off Kendrick’s nuts? Isn’t that just a juvenile swipe at a kid whose musical DNA very closely resembles your own? Life batters all of us, but I want the Lupe who believed in people back. Miss me with all this until he shows up.

 

RELATED: Stray Shots - Free Chris Brown Edition [Editorial]

Advertisement

37 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Fat people should be embarrassed. There is no reason to get like that. This kids parents should be ashamed. I hope they'll learn when they're burying him.

  • theOTHERandyitwaru

    Part of me wants that boy to lose weight so he'll be healthy, the other part of me wants to be entertained tho. http://itwaru.blogspot.ca/

  • From A Long Time Reader

    I know this is somewhat unrelated but the editors seem to answer comments on the editorials so here goes. I was curious when these changes you're making to the comment section roll out and what they are? I've been using this site for many years so feel somewhat loyal but the truth is there's dozens of sites people can obtain hip hop news from. The only thing really differentiating sites are the comment section and editorials. Your editorials are great but the comments continue declining in quality at an alarming rate. Trolling can be funny but it's the same trolls saying the same thing on every article trying to upset the elite backpacker fans about Drake or Gucci or Lord Jamar or whatever. If done intelligently trolling is funny but I don't like seeing the same comments on every article rehashing the same trolling techniques. Then you have the "how is this news" people who are so bored in life they click articles they're not interested in just to critique (albeit anonymously). Of course the most nonsensical comments are the ones when people assume other's races, ages, sexual orientation and such through comments. "You're obviously a white virgin living in your mom's basement." Said the anonymous man to the other anonymous man... Back in 08-09 I believe it was, (whenever the color scheme was brown), you actually had to register usernames and passwords and once that name was taken you couldn't anonymously use it. There was also a brief period when you could login through Facebook and comment. This was a great idea except all the anonymous comments making fun of people's pictures or wives. However both those techniques worked well for finding people who you liked to have discussions with. there were actually good discussions in the comment section too. Now it's just ignorance and narcissism rather than opposing and similiar views discussing hip-hop. I know this is a little drawn out but I enjoy having discussions and seeing other fans views in the comments. Every week though it seems to be more and more of a challenge to find someone to discuss it with. All these issues I talked about stem from the mindset people obtain when commenting with animosity. I know making everyone register (be it Facebook or Twitter) might deter some people from coming to the site but I believe it would be more attractive to educated and serious hip-hop fans. Some might say to me "find another site" but I've been using DX for many years and feel a sense of loyalty since they've always had great editorials and were one of the first hip-hop news sites. Again I'm just curious what steps are being taken and I'm hoping that just deleting the nonsensical comments isn't the only step. I thoroughly enjoy your album reviews and editorials and hope soon I can enjoy having discussions in the comments without a bunch of anonymous hecklers. Your site is great and easy to navigate and I don't want to seem negative at all. Just one small thing that hasn't seemed to be addressed very well. Thanks

    • Justin Hunte

      Thank you for the comment, From A Long Time Reader. You're absolutely correct about the comments section. Great memory, too. The brown and yellow site, from roughly 2005 through 2009 had the Facebook option for commenting and was unfortunately not passed forward through the next two site revamps. Your analysis is on point, too. As soon as a login is required, overall comments decrease, which is one of the byproducts we've had to consider as we plot the changes to come. Here's the good news, volume of comments is far from ideal, as the current state of the C-Section reveals. All of the upcoming changes consider our Long Time Readers, as well as new user engagementboth of which express the same concerns. Trust, these are the last days you'll be able to have this same complaint. I will say this though: personally, I'm less bothered by the "How Is This News" commenters, and most times, "You must be a closet [insert generic whatever]." The 'How Is This News" cats actually help keep us honest. With an audience as large and diverse as DX's there are multiple Hip Hop generations engaging with our content. Figuring out what our audience, all of our audiences, want and don't want is the challenge at hand every morning. Sometimes an effective 'How Is This News"-team helps you learn more about the road ahead. As for the "You must be a closest [insert generic whatever]," occasionally those commenters are challenging the trolls, even if they do it in a trolly fashion. The best of both segments will always be welcome to share their voice. I really appreciate you asking when the C-Section changes are coming and for rocking with DX all these years. We're excited about the changes to come, all of which are designed with our audience in mind. But please be patient with us. Doing it right is vital. Nothing starts off dope.

  • Kramer

    That poor kid is huge. Why does the mother give him so much food?

  • eleanorawbaker

    Start working at home with Google! Its by-far the best job Ive had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail ======================= WWW.TEC90.COM =======================

  • Anonymous

    that lil fat nigga going to die before he turn 20

  • Tiktok

    The host lady totally skipped out on the workout. She needs to get in shape so she can do that dance.

  • Anonymous

    FUCK TERRIO WHERE THE HELL IS KAI$OUNDZ?

  • Anonymous

    Ay DX staff, will y'all write a piece on Chief Keef's A&R comparing Keef's next album to Thriller??? LMAO

  • Chem

    Ebro thinks he is the boss.. Haha

  • Mike

    Yo who da f### are y'all? I've visited hiphop sites all my life and can remember when the big ones were tha real.com , ahh, hiphop game . And as time went I remember watching sohh come up and pretty much followed the growth of what I consider the big three now..ex,ahh and sohh (slowly falling lack of content slanted editorials). But I never saw such intellectual depth and clarity especially with the Lupe piece...it was said brilliantly. To add to the Terrio insight just the point about the flip Wilson madea line...that was a tough bar for a writer to connect. Y'all are doing hiphop a service. Nothing against Torae but hiphop needs people that can dust off the easy perception of this culture as nothing deeper while coming off as not nerds reading about it. You're really challenging people to think for themselves while acknowledging the tidal wave that is social media pushing us towards forgetting values ie Terrio and bullying. Social media exposes that we are just the image we seek to present. Those contradictions became apparent when we "like" an anti bullying campaign ad , and later "like" a Terrio meme. Then peoples contradictions come clearer like Lupe's. Everyone changes but that wave we are in now makes change happen fast and without sincerity..like saying happy birthday because you got a reminder or hating Kony overnight. That's my addition but yo I'm definitely liking this stray shots idea!

  • True

    I agree after 50 left interscope he started releasing a whole bunch of music they way he wanted to and is already ready to drop an album. Hiphopdx's Andre and Omar need to take a sip of the Piece of paper cup of Jayzus. "Got to go to Harvard to be a Lupe Stan." "I don't flow I ceiling." Y'all ain't giving Lupe his proper respect. Jay z even dropped Kingdom Come and some other unmentionables.

  • SLR

    As far as Lupe goes all I got say is SLR 2. You fans are fickle sh*t always ready to jump ship for the "next" guy they say is hot smh. Why y'all think Lupe finna go independent after he leave Atlantic. If you all really think all of these artists have control when it comes to dealing with a label then you are wrong. You are gonna make the music the way they want you to. I mean look how Wiz's albums always sound way more commercial than his mix tapes. Not saying Wiz never experimented with different sounds, but his albums are saturated with that commercial crap; same for J.cole, etc. There are not too many artist on a major label that can really do what they want as far as their music goes. Besides If you listen to all the hip hop artists on Atlantic you'll see that's the radio/commercial sound is what they like to build their hip-hop brand behind.

  • SpotOn

    Man .. Straight read my mind with the Lupe explanation .. Honestly when he converted to Whoopi and got access to Twitter, it just became super obvious that it was all an Act all along .. I can still really enjoy the old Music and even Lasers, but I'm not at all interested in his new Album, I was not at all impressed by his Twitter lines to Dizaster and his words just don't hold any real Credibility any more for me ...

  • Jose

    I agree with you Andre. Lupe is very talented. His themes in music change with every album and that kind of pushes me away as a day one fan of Lupe. Ofcourse I don't want every album to be the same but when you cater to radio spins then that raw material is losed through pleasing execs who are only interested in money. And when Lupe took the pop route, my interest in hip hop shifted to the likes of lil Wayne, Jay-z, Luda, and SPM. But with that being said; I still consider Lupe Fiasco one of the greatest MC's to date. And for no particular reason what so ever, here is my list of top ten rappers in random order: Biggie Smalls 2pac Big Pun Big L Nas Jay-Z Eminem Kanye West Kendrick Lamar AZ

    • Diligent Thought

      kendrick lamars on your list??? wtf... you dont know hip hop u groupie.. kendricks dope yes and im a fan but one of the greats?? naa son.. weve seen many mcs before come up with the kendrick hype and then just fell off...

  • Anonymous

    cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio

  • Anonymous

    who the fuck is terrio?

  • Anonymous

    lay off the sweets you fat little fuck

  • Anonymous

    "Terios that kid that dances on the Internet, right? My mother asked me this yesterday when she called to check up on how her boy was handling life six modern hours away" Lol your mother randomly called you to talk about some internet meme?

  • elvee

    Old Lupe is dead, unfortunately. I always wondered why he went to a corporate label and didn't sign with G.O.O.D. music - run by an artist. I went to a "record release party" of his a few years back, and dude was at least 5 hours late so I went home. Someone got on stage and said he had run out of gas in southern IL. Now that's Dumbing it Down. Then he issued a statement blaming his label for even saying he would be there. I still love his first two albums and this one mixtape where he covers "Fire," but mostly, SHUT UP, LUPE. I'm sure he is fine with this since I'm not his target audience. Also, he looks ROUGH & raggedy for 32. I guess all those sensitive thoughts must take their toll.

  • Anonymous

    Why the fuck do I care about these random opinions? A blog is a place for someone to create a space that they own and can talk on whatever they want. Nobody wants a nobody's curated reaction to recent events.

  • r1cka1me1da

    Dope but hes not ridin kendricks nuts like rosenberg*

  • r1cka1me1da

    Rosenberg said "Kendrick has the best album of the last DECADE" which is gargling kendricks nutsack..even Lupes second album is a better choice then kendricks...the game is ridin kendricks nuts like Lil Wayne an Lupe is just speakin his mind like I wouldve if I was in his position..he didnt go on there to comment on kendrick, he was asked on what he thought about kendrick and he said kendrick and tde were dope an then Rosenberg proved Lupes point by actin like kendrick was the second coming of christ or the return of tupac

    • Diligent Thought

      Word dude! Now i would say HipHop DX need to let go of em Kendrick NUtzzzzz.... kendricks a great artist nd all but all this hype??? naaa son....Lupe is a legacy ... YOU CANT DENY THAT :))

    • HONESTLY

      ROSENBERG doesn't know shit how can he say i\that's the best album of the decade when he hasn't even listened to kai$oundz

    • Cyrus The Great

      I just needed somebody to say that, so thanks. HipHoDX took the opportunity to shoot Lupe down for not riding Kendrick's nuts as hard as they do. Technically speaking, Kendrick is much more irresponsible with his rap mechanics. He'll say whatever not caring how it rhymes or what effect it has over the scheme, which is reminiscent of a Jeezy rather than a Nas/Lupe. So it is very understandable that a rapper with Lupe's skill would be able to see the glaring holes in Kendrick's flippant technical ability. Ken's album is definitely a potential classic, but treating it like the second coming of sliced bread is only gonna diminish it's quality. If you think about how Nas's style on illmatic changed the game, Kendrick's style is actually a step backwards. But conceptually, good kid was similar in scope to The Cool just with more mainstream appeal.