Left: Rapper Lupe Fiasco; right: Chief Bone Necklace, in a portrait taken by the photographer Heyn in 1899.

Lupe Fiasco Name-Checks Pine Ridge, Lakota, Ghost Dance and Chief Bone Necklace in New Single

ICTMN Staff
5/22/12

"First off say peace to Pine Ridge..."

So begins the new single by Lupe Fiasco, "Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)," a journey through the tragedies and injustice of the modern world. Fiasco takes the United States and the media to task, calling the former "a big motherfuckin’ garbageman" and the latter "a bunch of nonsense on my TV." He brings up issues in the Middle East and Africa, the Civil Rights movement, and the carnage that followed Hurricane Katrina, but he keeps returning to Pine Ridge and the Lakota. Those first lines, again, are:

First off say peace to Pine Ridge
Shame at all the damage the white man wine did
Ghost dance, Trail of Tears, 5 million beers a year

Here we would ask whether the lyric, posted to several sites, is actually "Trail of Tears" (which would not be relevant to Lakota history) or, as one ICTMN editor has suggested, "Peltier," as in Leonard Peltier, the Lakota and AIM activist who has been incarcerated for murder since 1977. Peltier would also line up with a phrase two lines later, "rebels in small cells keeping their mind big."

Later lines include "Crucifixes, racism and a land grab" and:

So absurd word to Chief Bone Necklace
Down at the Lakota Sioux Casino
A whole culture boiled down to giving you pokeno

The final reference is one that is not specific to Pine Ridge, but an issue that bothers many American Indians: "Hope and pray they take Columbus day up off the calendar."

"Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)" is the first single off of Lupe Fiasco's forthcoming album Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, scheduled for a September 25 release.

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