The Anti-Defamation League deemed Lupe Fiasco‘s new freestyle “N.E.R.D.” “offensive” and “anti-Semitic” in a statement issued on Wednesday. The organization’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, targeted one controversial lyric – “Artists getting robbed for their publishing/ By dirty Jewish execs who think that it’s alms from the covenant” – as reinforcing the “myth of Jewish control of the music industry, a stereotype that has been exploited in recent years by well-known hatemongers.”
“It is irresponsible for a recording artist to perpetuate the hateful anti-Semitic stereotype of the ‘greedy Jew,'” Greenblatt continued. “Even if Lupe Fiasco has concerns about exploitation of his artistic output, it’s deplorable to stigmatize an entire group in response. 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.”
A rep for Lupe Fiasco did not immediately return a request for comment.
The acclaimed rapper released “N.E.R.D.,” which uses the instrumental to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Lyrics to Go,” Monday via Soundcloud. After some fans tweeted their indignation on Twitter, the rapper defended himself in a series of tweets discussing racism, his relationships with “Jewish friends,” his respect for the faith and his reasoning for specifying that the “execs” in the lyrics were Jewish.
“I’ve walked inside the ovens of Auschwitz,” he wrote. “I’ve been inside the dorms where workers starved to death to [sic] frail to move. I’ve seen the showers & the rail cars where millions died. I’ve been in the Ghettos of Warsaw. Ive seen [systemic] genocide. I’ve studied the Hebrew bible. And the stories of the Maccabees and the traditions of old Judea. I’ve swayed to the songs of Roshanna & eaten pomegranate seeds and Kibbeh with beets with Israelis who can’t fly on Emirates. I’ve sat in fellowships & watched Israeli Jews accuse American Jews of being not really Jewish becuz they wont live in Israel.”
On Tuesday, the rapper tweeted that SoundCloud took down “N.E.R.D.” because of “hate speech,” though a spokesperson for SoundCloud tells Rolling Stone, “We can confirm that Lupe Fiasco’s track ‘N.E.R.D’ has not been removed.” He also announced his retirement from music: “I get the hint God,” he wrote. “Yo Lupe fans it’s been fun and I hope you’ve had fun. I’m officially not releasing anymore music. Albums cancelled.”
Lupe briefly set his Twitter to private before making it public again. He also tweeted a series of angry responses directly to Greenblatt, including, “I didn’t called them dirty becuz they were Jewish I called them dirty becuz their [sic] horrible fucking human beings.”