It’s highly likely you’ve heard of Lupe Fiasco, so it might seem odd that I’m spotlighting him after he released his third album, five years after his debut. Watching this interview on the Tavis Smiley show reminded me of how much I like him and why. What’s remarkable about the release of his latest album, LASERS, is that fans orchestrated a protest to force Atlantic Records, to give LASERS a release date, which the label was planning to shelve. Here, Lupe discusses the depression and suicidal thoughts he faced during this period, how he came out of it, as well as the creativity/business battle. It’s a really good interview.
Lupe Fiasco – “Beautiful Lasers (2 ways)”
Since before “Kick, Push” hit the scene, I’ve been a big fan. Lupe’s an important artist and an important rapper. Obviously brilliant, he adds another dimension to the idea of who a popular rapper is and what they’re “allowed” to be. He’s not a commercial artist. He’s part of the young, black and gifted who wants to uplift his people, open people’s minds and bear light at the same time. Even in the pain that’s sometimes in his music, you can hear love.
“Beautiful Lasers” is one of the most emotionally honest songs I’ve heard in a really long time. It shatters the facades and probes into heart of things: this world, our selves, private struggles we all have had at one point or another, but won’t voice. I’m always reminding myself and others to be courageous. Vulnerability takes courage, and to create this, Lupe was courageous. Have to respect that.
Lupe is a true product and amalgamation of the black music lineage in the United States, which is a rich progression of music starting with spirituals, then blues, jazz, rock n’ roll, R&B, then hip hop. Although not as apparent on LASERS, which the label was intent on making commercial, his previous albums blend elements of all these genres quite nicely and rather organically. He’s obviously influenced by jazz, and I even like to consider him a ‘jazz rapper’, meaning his music requires the same level of attention as jazz because of its complexities and nuances.
Listen with care!
Lupe Fiasco – “Shining Down” feat. Matthew Santos
Lupe Fiasco – “Ghetto Story” (from the original version of Food & Liquor)