"O ye tormented souls! My goal is to sit on the globe, like North Poles!"
—"Super" Lupe Fiasco, "SLR"
One of the best and still relatively new Hip Hop artists out there, Lupe Fiasco (real name Wasalu Muhammad Jaco) has been called a breath of fresh air into what is becoming an overly commercialized genre. By Jay-Z, no less. His first early success came when he appeared on Kanye West's "Touch the Sky". Not long after that, his debut album Food & Liquor dropped and the lead single "Kick, Push", a homage to skateboarding among other things, started to reveal the talent the young rapper had. The album was critically acclaimed and got him three Grammy nods.A year later, his sophomore effort The Cool told the story of three different characters: The Cool (aka Micheal Young History), The Streets (the female personification of addiction to the high life), and The Game, a manifestation of the perils of urban living. There are numerous references scattered throughout both albums.His third album, LosersLasers, was shelved in 2008 by his label because they thought it wasn't "pop" enough. A combination of Lupe caving to pressure and rewriting some songs (something he has said will forever taint his own opinion of the album) and general fan outrage led to the record finally being released in 2011.Atlantic has promised to keep their hands off of The Great American Rap Album, and Lupe himself said it would appeal to some of his oldest fans. He also has an impressive arsenal of mixtapes that have become popular in their own right, notably the Fahrenheit 1/15 trilogy, and more recently Enemy of the State. Friend of the People, previously cancelled, was released on Thanksgiving 2011, like it was supposed the previous year, before he cancelled it due to people leaking his songs.Funnily enough, the genre that his Friend of the People mixtape is classified under is "Unclassifiable."On September 25th, Food and Liquor 2 was released. While the album was generally well liked and earned him (yet another) Grammy Nomination, a lot of criticism came in the form of accusing Lupe Fiasco being a bit too Anvilicious and one critic accused his self-regard being greater than his actual skill. Fans, on the other hand, loved it.
Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor (2006)
Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (2007)
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 (2012)
Creator Backlash: Lupe has mentioned in interviews that while he both loves and hates Lasers (because while he does like the songs, he despises it because of its torturous and troubled development), he has a considerably less complicated relationship with its lead single, The Show Goes On. He has repeatedly referred to it as 'the label's record'.
Darker and EdgierDeconstruction: "Kick, Push II". It continues where "Kick, Push" left off, but paints a depressing picture of the lives of The Skater and his crew. The original is romantic, idealized fantasy about leaving the world behind with your True Companions and the one you love, while "Kick Push II" reflects on how awful their lives would need to be to desire that kind of escapism.
Did Not Get the Girl: Subverted in the extended version of "And He Gets The Girl". Just before the third verse we have the spoken lines:
"And just like everything in life, things grow. People grow. And people grow apart. It's like some things were just never meant to be... but... then again, maybe... some things are."
Executive Meddling: Originally, Lupe planned to release three albums- Food & Liquor, The Cool, and LupE.N.D., then retire. Unfortunately for him, his contract dictates at least six.
His album L.A.S.E.R.S. was delayed several times due to disputes with his record label. Despite The Cool being certified gold, gaining critical acclaim, and being nominated for four Grammys, his record label decided that the album wasn't "successful" because none of his singles made #1 on the charts. They subsequently took his creative control, not even allowing him to choose his own producers, instead they would provide him with the records they wanted him to make. The most recent delay came after he rejected some of the records they asked him to record. A petition from the fans was the only thing that allowed for the release of the record.
Because of this, he made sure that the first single, particularly its first verse, was a complete Take That towards Atlantic Records.
Although Atlantic still had a lot of influence on the album itself. Listen to the State Run Radio and Beautiful Lasers samples released in 2009. The final album version of the songs have the beats more heavily produced and the chorus singer changed(State Run Radio was sung by Lupe Fiasco himself) or autotuned.
Misogyny Song: And In-Universe Deconstruction in the song "Bitch Bad" where it talks about how songs that portray women as objects and use words that mean bad things as good things can effect young girls and young boys.
Music Is Politics: State Run Radio highlights this while intertwining the typical political topics. The irony of it is that it was one of the songs that were heavily edited to be marketed for radio play.
From the same song "I'm trying to stop lying/Lion like I'm Mum-Ra"
"I love my city, really hope that God bless it/Got my mind moving faster than that hog in the hedges.
"With the habit of a hobbit makes it kinda hard to drop it"
"I like Street Fighter too, I just really hate Zangief, only Ken and Ryu, I find it hard to beat Blanka..."
His part in Fort Minor's "Spray Paint and Ink Pens". While Ghostface raps about street life, and Mike Shinoda's verse is about a man committing suicide over the death of his wife, Lupe's is an epic sci-fi space drama about "the final saga in the Seven Planet Wars" that almost feels like an ode to the various Gundam animes.
His verse in Kanye West's "Don't Look Down" is all about the departure of Phoenix/Jean Grey from the X-Men.
Touch the Sky features the line "Lupe steals like Lupin III"
Supergroup: Two of 'em: Child Rebel Soldier and All City Chess Club.
Super Mode: A rather hilariously dangerous Real Life example, after Soulja Boy said nobody could understand Lu's lyrics, Lu decided to record the song "SLR (Super Lupe Raps)"...the cover art for the song really reads SUPER LUPE FIASCO-SLR. Also, the track's artist is labeled as "Super Lupe Fiasco". The funny thing is, SLR is filled to the brim with metaphors, shout outs, and insults. And it's 6 minutes long.
"O ye tormented souls! My goal is to sit on top of the world like North Poles..."
"Flow's so nuts the track is getting teabagged..."
"You can feel it in your chest, like Bruce Lee jumping on your vest. But I can't feel yours through my Superman "S" "
"You can't understand me, nor mimic my miracles. All I see is me, and I'm a mother-loving-mirror-full..."
And even better, after Kendrick Lamar set the world alight with his verse on Big Sean's "Control", Lupe returned to this and released "SLR 2" and "SLR 3: Round of Applause".
Take That: Occasionally, usually to more mainstream rap. Lupe may be clever with his meanings and rhymes, but his insults are usually not as subtle. A fairly direct one is made about 22 seconds from the end of "Gotta Eat", aimed at Soulja Boy. It's barely audible upon the first few listenings.
"Youuuuuuuuu..... that shit is so stupid..."
Alternatively, "Gotta Eat" likens fast food companies to a drug dealer selling a product that they know is slowly killing people.
"Dumb It Down" is basically a treatise directed at mainstream rappers and the record execs that push them.
To the chagrin of rappers and their loyal, teenaged fans who love music videos with guns, drugs and boobs in slow motion and think it's incredible and creative, "Daydreamin'" fires back by pointing out that they're played out and they were never really that cool.
The entirety of "B.M.F. (Building Minds Faster)" is another shot to the mainstream, Rick Ross in particular.
Soulja Boy got his (again) after he claimed that Lupe's lyrics were indecipherable in "S.L.R. (Super Lupe Raps)".
"Words I Never Said" takes what was meant to be a love song and uses it to slam political pundits, Barack Obama and self-described revolutionaries who only listen to protest songs while doing nothing to bring about change.
The entire first verse of "The Show Goes On" is spent telling Atlantic to collectively fuck themselves.
"State Run Radio" is pretty self-explanatory.
Kendrick Lamar, amongst others, is targeted in "SLR 2" and "SLR 3: Round of Applause".
2 Chainz and Lil Wayne have shots taken at them in "Peace of Paper/Cup of Jayzus"
Arguably "Pound of Flesh/Paris, Tokyo 2" takes shots at Drake.
"Don't you know, that I run this place? That I've begun this race? Must I RERUN THIS PACE? I'M the reason it's become this way..."
What Could Have Been: After numerous features on each other's songs, Lupe along with Pharrell from N.E.R.D./The Neptunes and Kanye West were going to form a supergroup called Child Rebel Soldiers or C.R.S. Unfortunately all that materialized were two songs and later Lupe announced that group was permanently on ice...or is it?
That song was recorded in 2008 according to Lupe.
Now Lupe and Pharrell could be doing a collaborative album, which some say could be CRS without Kanye.
He and B.o.B. formed a massive super group that many fans thought were going to put Young Money in its place...they've done absolutely nothing, besides a remix to "I'm Beaming".
"Airplanes" and "Nothin' on You" were originally his songs before Atlantic gave them to B.o.B. No wonder Lupe became suicidal.
"World of Cardboard" Speech: A rare rap example, but "The Show Goes On" has a rather impressive example in lyrical form. The whole point of the message is that he will continue to be the artist who tries to direct the youth into a more positive direction than most mainstream rap.
"One in the air for the people in here. Two in the air for the father that's there. Three in the air for the kids in the ghetto. Four for the kids that don't wanna be there. None for the niggas tryna hold them back. Five in the air for the teacher not scared To tell those kids that's living in the ghetto that the niggas holdin' back that the world is theirs. Yeah, yeah the world is yours! I was once that little boy, Terrified of the world. Now I'm on a World Tour. I will give up everything, even start a world war, For these ghetto girls and boys I'm rappin' 'round the world for."
And "Words I Never Said" comes with yet another one as the third verse.
"I think that all the silence is worse than all the violence. Fear is such a weak emotion; that's why I despise it. We scared of almost everything, afraid to even tell the truth. So scared of what you think of me I'm scared of even telling you. Sometimes I'm like the only person I feel safe to tell it to. I'm locked inside a cell in me. I know that there's a jail in you. Consider this your bailing out, so take a breath, inhale a few. My screams is finally getting free. My thoughts is finally yelling through!"
What If?: "All Black Everything" is a scenario that depicts what would happen if the Slave Trade never happened. The final verse subverts this stating that there is nothing you can do about the past, but can do something about the future.
World of Pun: Every line of Gotta Eat is a food puns while describing a drug dealer... or describes food using drug dealing puns... or it's a Take That against the fast food industry likening them to drug dealers... it's hard to say.