#12 Lupe Fiasco

July 22, 2016

 

 88

 

Lyrics   10

 

"I'm fearless, now hear this, I'm earless, and I'm peerless, that means I'm eyeless, which means I'm teerless, which means my iris, resides where my ears is, which means I'm blinded, but I'mma find it, I can feel it nearness." Sheeeesh, Lupe is the embodiment of lyrics, found amongst the likes of Kendrick and Black Thought as one of the greatest wordsmiths in the genre’s history. Word play and double entendres for days Lupe Fiasco can bar your life away, as the thought that goes into his pen is really something to marvel at. In that regard he’s almost like a magician, as normal human beings don’t think to put words together like he does, nevermind the fact that he makes it look so easy.

 

Delivery  10

 

"They ain't living properly, break em off with a little democracy, turn their whole culture to a mockery, give em Coca Cola for their property, give em gum, give em guns, get em young, give em fun, but if they ain't given it up then they ain't gettin none."  Wordplay and delivery, wordplay and delivery, perhaps two of the most important qualities of an MC, and Lupe Fiasco has both of them. Lupe can ride an instrumental like the skateboard he rode in on, with a rapid delivery that would make his competition want to Kick, Push away from rhyming after him. A phenomenal pen with an incredible flow, Lupe is one of the great spitters of the era.

 

 

Structure/Songwriting   7

 

"Cause I'mma make sure you got two of everything, that you ever want, every tone, like your very own, not to make you hard to respect, just really really really really hard to impress, it's a whole wide world for you to go and get your hands on, until then just come and get your dance on."  Not his best quality, at least in comparison to other areas where he does so well. Superstar and Battle Scars both went Platinum however, while The Show Goes On apparently even went Triple, yet even still those are of the same vain as the more recent Wiz Khalifa soundtrack record (See You Again), that dominated the charts for commercial reasons entirely different than what the artist is genuinely known for (sometimes the mainstream picks you up and you’re outta here - whether off your merits or not). Meanwhile Daydreamin’, Paris, Tokyo, and Out Of My Head are all respectable records more in line with the bulk of Fiasco’s work, although the majority of his records come across as discombobulated divine intervention where the passion is there but the cohesion is not. The outlier however is Coming Up off his third studio album Lasers, a complete record that is perhaps his finest work to date

 

Content/Meaning    9

 

“I be in outer space, but I got inner peace”  Lupe is often times all over the place, but wherever he is most of the time he’s speaking from his soul. Heartfelt records like Heart Donor, I’m Beamin, Blur My Hands, and He Say She Say are all incredibly moving, and they all come from scattered albums throughout his career demonstrating his ability to send his message in various forms. His last album Tetsuo and Youth is perhaps his most eclectic, an extremely abstract work of art that goes as far as to speak to sacred geometry (Dots & Lines), then comes back around to reminisce about the sanctity of his youth (Old School Lovin - not on final cut but was used as a promotional single- and thanks to Ed Sheeran went Platinum). Ultimately Lupe can take you anywhere with his sound and then bring you back home, a testament to the depth in the layers in his music.

 

Self Made    9

 

"Guess who's on third, Lupe steal like Lupin the 3rd" The front man for his own crew and record label (FNF/1 & 15), Lupe’s first national recognition was a highly anticipated feature off Kanye West’s Touch The Sky, an opportunity he made the most of becoming a household name ever since. In reality though Lupe has stood on his own since the very beginning, marching to the beat of his own drum and not concerned with hopping on waves as they come. As far as instrumentals go he relies on production from an arsenal of lesser known producers, King David, Soundtrakk, Prolyfic, and DJ Dahi to name a few.  

 

Image/Branding    8

 

"Do you remember me, the guy from verse one, failure's my last name, never's my first one, you see I hood a lot, and yeah I nerd some, hoods where the heart is, nerds where the words from." This is an interesting category for Lupe, as while at times he occupies a relative obscurity in Hip Hop, he otherwise has singles that have gone to a completely different stratosphere. The previously mentioned Superstar, Battle Scars, and The Show Goes On are all celebrated records across major platforms in popular music, but a question remains as to whether or not those records actually have a higher trajectory than his name. Meaning these are records that you hear ad nauseum on pop radio, but in this case it’s highly likely that the same audience that adores them is detached from who sings them, as Lupe has not made the same impact as a brand.

 

Sales   7

 

"City on my back, so the Chi go everywhere I'm at, presence so shiny, Mercedes so matte, cop that from Platinum, the color of my plaque, I memorize Color's off of Yo! MTV Raps." A Gold artist with Platinum singles, Lupe Fiasco still sells relatively well even though his best numbers come from a few years back. His last two releases only sold a fraction over and a fraction under 100,000 units, while separate from another manufactured radio hit it’s likely that these numbers will stay the same in the foreseeable future.

 

Ability to Rock an Instrumental at a Radio Station   10

 

"See my brain just flows and see just how I goes, and I’m from Chicago and I’m letting ***** know, you can cut it out and scratch it or baste it, or send it through the strainer but please don’t waste it, make sure you clean the plates when I’m done cooking..." Perhaps more so than anyone else on this list, Lupe Fiasco is potentially the King of leaving Earth at the radio station. Seemingly with the ability to do this anywhere at any time, his best moments are likely at Sway in the Morning and the Tim Westwood show, where he absolutely annihilates instrumentals (with presumed to be real freestyles), to the point of leaving you mesmerized.

 

 

Ability to Fuck Up a Rewind Button   10

 

“Any love less than unconditional, is so Under-Christian, it’s unrepentant, the physical parts of my church, emits the invisible arts of my work” Lupe snaps as hard as anyone else in Hip Hop, and if he hasn’t fucked up your rewind button you’re simply not paying attention. But if for no other reason than you didn’t catch what he said, run that shit back because a lot of it is what you need to hear.

 

Longevity   8


"You see what my problem is, that I don't know who my poppa is, no positive male role models, to play football and build railroad models."  Yet he overcame all that and here he is 10 years strong, as Lupe is still held in the highest regard of Hip Hop by some, while his lack of relevance to others is strictly based off his own disposition. Even with pop records and Grammy recognition Lupe seems to stay in the cut for the longest, yet when he comes back out there’s a still a lot of people who want a taste of what he’s been cooking.

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