Lupe Fiasco, born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco and raised in Chicago, first caught my attention with his 2006 debut, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor. He’s a different kind of MC than people are used to. That album’s lead single, for instance – called “Kick, Push” – was a skater-boy-meets-skater-girl love story. One of my personal favorites from that album is a track called “Daydreamin’,” featuring the divine Jill Scott. That song mocks the excesses of most rap music and its videos before Lupe says “I had to turn my back on what got you paid / I couldn’t see half the hood on me like Abu Ghraib / But I’d like to thank the streets that drove me crazy / And all the televisions out there that raised me…”
Fiasco continued to do his own thing on 2007’s The Cool, which was nearly a concept album, building off a couple of tracks on Food & Liquor. As AllMusic.com said, “a fatherless boy is raised by supernatural characterizations of the streets (named the Streets) and the game (named the Game), squanders his potential, becomes motivated by greed, turns to dealing drugs, gets caught up on a few levels.” This album continued to distance Lupe, a clever lyricist, from the hip-hop morass.
So it was with great anticipation that I waited for Lupe’s next album…and waited, and waited. The album, Lasers, was delayed several times and Fiasco had to make several artistic concessions before the label would finally release it to an audience so eager to hear it, that 30,000 of them signed a petition demanding Atlantic release the album and many other fans held a protest outside Atlantic’s offices.
What did Lupe Fiasco’s fans get? Depends on who you ask. Some Web sites have given it horrible reviews, while AllMusic.com gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Rolling Stone, however, loved it. They gave it 4 1/2 stars (out of 5), saying “Lasers, is shorter, brighter and — most admirably — more optimistic. It places Lupe in a tradition that runs from Marley to M.I.A.: the soul rebel who refuses to believe righteous struggle has to be a grind.”
I, of course, will make up my mind for myself. This Friday Soundtrack is the lead single from Lasers, “The Show Goes On.” Here Lupe reworks the chorus from Modest Mouse’s “Float On” and defiantly raps that, even when people try to bring him down or mistreat him:
…I don’t switch up I just laugh
Put my kicks up on they desk
Unaffected by they threats, then get busy on they ass
See that’s how that Chi-Town made me
That’s how my daddy raised me
They glittering may not be gold, don’t let no body play me
If you are my homeboy, you never have to pay me
Go on and put your hands up, when times are hard you stand up…
Good stuff from Lupe, bright and optimistic as Rolling Stone said. This one’s going to power my weekend. Enjoy yours.
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