Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco

“The leak and the leak,” is what the Breakout Man of the Year, First and Fifteen’s front man, Lupe Fiasco, labels the gift and the curse of 2006. The Internet leak pushed back Lupe’s album further than Akon’s hairline, but Emperor Lu still scooped three Grammy nods, a Reebok deal and an upstart clothing line—dropping in fall 2007—aligned with Righteous King Fu camp called Trillion Truly. Riding high off his success, Lupe still stays grounded, but he has bloomed into a savvy businessman that understands, like his mentor that guided the Chi-town native from day-one; market the whole package and “Never chase the radio.”

Format: You have a Grammy under your belt and you’re now nominated for three more Grammies. If you win another Grammy do you think it will feel like the first one?
Lupe Fiasco: The first one was awarded to the company. For this one it’s automatically different, because it’s from my own work [now]. I don’t know. Truthfully, if it happens, it happens, if it don’t, it don’t. I’m happy for Soundtrack, it’s his first year in, first single and then it gets nominated for two Grammies all in the same year. I’m looking at him to see what he’s going to do – I’m cool I’m chillin.

Format: How does it feel to be GQ’s Breakout Man of the Year?
Lupe Fiasco: On the music side for me the Grammies are the top, but on the other side, the more personal side, being a regular guy, that’s the tops for me, to be GQ Breakout Man of the Year. You know what I’m sayin’, like the name is dope, so to be GQ Breakout Man of the Year is even fresher. Then to be in the same ranks as like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio and people like that, and to meet up with my boss Jay, and to be at the same level he is in a lot of aspects [now], early is really dope to me.

“To me, if hip-hop was a car it would be a Benz sitting on 24s…”

Format: Speaking of Jay-Z what is the biggest thing you take from your experiences with him?
Lupe Fiasco: It’s always been the same, he told [me] don’t chase radio about four years ago and we always stuck to that – don’t chase radio and do what feels right. Get your fan base together and don’t go for the status quo. And so it works, and it’s continuing to work.

Format: Right now, do you feel that hip-hop is more of an art or an industry?
Lupe Fiasco: Hip-hop is an industry right now – well it’s both, I take that back. It’s both and I try to practice it at an artist level, but I’m a businessman, too, so to me it’s fifty-fifty. I always work in both arenas at the same time. I make music that fits the industry, you know what I’m sayin’, not really chasing the radio, but I keep it open where it appeals to everyone, where I’m not locked in this hole and I’m making the music, and it sounds good to me, and blah, blah, blah. I really do both where it fits both arenas and I try to package it up where it fits. It’s shiny and it’s glossy, and it’s not brown with a backpack on it and people can’t really relate to it. I understand the importance of pop and hype, and prestige and all those different elements that you need to have to make something work especially when you’re trying to sell it.

“Hip-hop should be a vehicle for the masses not ostracized, not derogatory where it’s breaking people down.”

Format: Speaking of the business side, what’s in store for RKF in 2007?
Lupe Fiasco: We’re doing our clothing line out of Righteous Kung Fu called Trillion Truly, which is like high-end clothing joints that we’re putting together and we have a lot of collaborations with a few companies out of Japan and London. So we’re just putting it together and building it up, it’s our little baby and hopefully we’ll have a full line by next fall.

Format: What’s up with Reebok?
Lupe Fiasco: Reebok is done in February and that will be it! I think I’m going to step away from that arena for a minute. I learned a lot from them on what and what not to do. So, when this contract is up I’m going to just chill for a minute.

Format: Presently, you’re very business-minded, so what are some of the things that you learned from Reebok – any positive things you applied to RKF?
Lupe Fiasco: It’s stuff that I kind of knew, but it was just reaffirmed by being inside the system. You know you have certain things on the outside looking in where you make all these assumptions and then you go into it, and you think it’s going to be everything you thought it was, and found out that it wasn’t. It was kind of both. Learning some things and reaffirming certain things about working in a company on that scale, and the importance of niches and the unimportance; that you can be quickly looked over by these gargantuan corporations like “whatever” really quickly so you have to know how to move with in them and make things happen for yourself.

Lupe Fiasco

Format: Food & Liquor was leaked months before it was released. What do you see yourself doing differently with this next album so a leak doesn’t happen again?
Lupe Fiasco: I mean it’ll be the same thing, you can’t escape the leak. It’s going to be a little bit tighter and the actual process is going to be condensed. There is going to be a lot of pre-set-up; so from recording, to mastering, to mixing, to production it’s going to be on a real tight schedule, so we’re maxing out time. What we had with the last album was a lot of time. It was three years, so now we’re making The Cool into about three weeks.

Format: On your track “Hurt Me Soul”, the last verse really sticks out. You rap about the world’s ills, but the same time you’re sitting on 24s, so it appears like you’re saying my life is great, but all this bullshit in the world is happening.
Lupe Fiasco: Well, it’s a little deeper than that; it’s the grotesque standing next to the beauty and they interchange, and it’s really meant as a vehicle of hip-hop. To me, if hip-hop was a car it would be a Benz sitting on 24s, Rock & Roll would be an old school Cadillac from the `50s, Opera’s car would be a long old fashioned car from the `20s, but hip-hop would be a Benz on `24s and that’s the vehicle conveyed in that third verse. Everything that I talked about, or something that’s real ill or going on in the world and has a certain level of grotesqueness to it. So, Food & Liquor was about balance, it was about the good and the bad. So you got this Benz and it’s clean and da-da-da, and on the inside you have all this vice and nonsense, and that’s the theme I tried to carry throughout the album. It pops up in certain themes throughout the album. There was another song that we didn’t get a chance to put on the album that was called the “Pills”, which came out on this MTV My Block Compilation and that song kind of personified the ills of the world standing next to the beauties of the world.

“To be in the same ranks as like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio and people like that…”

Format: Right now, you say hip-hop looks like a Benz with 24s, if you had your ideal vehicle of what you want hip-hop to look like, what would it be?
Lupe Fiasco: A Delorean!

Format: For the people that don’t know what a Delorean is, can you explain?
Fiasco: The car from Back to the Future! Nah, but really, it would be a bus that one person drove. There wasn’t nothing spectacular about it, but it got you from point A to point B and encompassed all the strife and struggles of everybody. So you get on the bus in Midtown Manhattan and you have someone from every culture and every walk of life – from the bum to the executives – getting them to where they need to be. That’s what hip-hop should be. Hip-hop should be a vehicle for the masses not ostracized, not derogatory where it’s breaking people down. It should just be something that’s open for everybody to communicate from people within – like public transit.

Format: If hip-hop was more challenging and competitive, lyrically, and was a bus that could pick up everybody, do you think you would have made the statement about making three albums and retiring, because of everything you see inside the Benz?
Lupe Fiasco: I’m doing three and I’m done. It’s always about the tri-fecta. B.I.G. was only going to do three: Ready to Die, Life After Death, and Born Again, if he had lived to do Born Again, and for me that’s the same kind of route that I’m following. I don’t think I have that much to say. I don’t want to do the same thing twice and I’ve done a lot of songs talking about a lot of things, so it’s kind of running out of things for me to talk about. When Jay did “What More Can I Say,” people were like, “How can you say there’s nothing else to say, there always something else to say!” It gets to a point where the things you want to talk about and the things that inspire you to talk, you’ve already talked about them, and you don’t want to seem redundant, and you don’t want to seem like your beating a dead horse.

“I’m doing three and I’m done. It’s always about the tri-fecta. B.I.G. was only going to do three…”

Format: That’s weird, because look at rappers like Little Brother and Phonte, it is like they’re getting to the point of not being able to talk about anything else.
Lupe Fiasco: You get bored I mean look at Mos Def, he sounds bored and I love Mos Def, and it’s not speaking down on him, but you can see once you talk about the message so much. You can take it outside the context of hip-hop. You look at people like Noam Chomsky or Malcolm X, their message didn’t change. Once you heard one speech you heard them all, because they talked about the same things, because it was the same problems and the same solutions. It was addressing it to a different audience so some more people could hear about it, but the base message was the same.

Format: Do you think you will take it to another level, because you’ve done the hip-hop thing, will you travel to another venue?
Lupe Fiasco: Maybe, that’s the good thing with music, there is so much variation and so much to do if you just open your mind and allow yourself to. I’m always a businessman so I have to know that there is a venue to do it and a market for it. I’m not going to do it like, “I just wanna do something crazy!!!” because I know it takes a lot of time, a lot of sacrifice and a lot of money. I want to make sure when I do it and go out on that limb that it’s necessary.

Lupe Fiasco

Format: Let’s do a little best and worst of `06. Best and worst moment for Lupe in `06?
Lupe Fiasco: The leak and the leak!

Format: The hottest sneaker of `06?
Lupe Fiasco: The illest sneaker of `06 is still the John Lenin Chuck Taylor, which, actually, came out in 2004. I have a pair on my feet right now and they’re still crushing everything in the world.

Format: Currently, how large is your sneaker collection?
Lupe Fiasco: My collection kind of tapered off, because of the Reebok deal, so I couldn’t go out and buy Nike or any other brand, so I’m actually done and I’m reverting back from Chuck Taylors. I think I’ll be wearing Chuck Taylors for the rest of my life.

Format: Illest toy of `06?
Lupe Fiasco: Illest toy of `06 is the Futura X UNKL collaboration with 360 Toys, [it] was fresh as hell.

Format: Ps3, Wii or XBOX?
Lupe Fiasco: Wii.Virtual console you can download all the Turbo Graphic 16 games and that’s all I want, if I can get a Turbo Graphic 16 that’s all I would play. Just Blaze is being stingy and won’t give me the mod for his.

Format: You may have upped Nintendo’s market. They’re about to have a good Christmas!
Lupe Fiasco: I love Nintendo we have a working relationship. They show me a lot of love and I show it back.

Format: Last time you’ve skated?
Lupe Fiasco: Whenever I’m at home. I find myself skating in my basement because that’s where the studio is and there is a little nasty, ratty skateboard and I always find myself perfecting my kick-flip.

Format: What goals do you have for 2007?
Lupe Fiasco: I don’t know what I want to do, man. This year has been spectacular and I’ve been debating about trying to go hard to win the Nobel Peace Prize. You have to put out all that action from the album and put it out in the world.

Lupe Fiasco

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Dale Coachman

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  1. so accordin to homey, we all might as well stop rappin since everyone’s already done/said everything no longer continuing, innovation doesnt exist… ha, didnt hear the album but homey doin his thing, he’s not as out there as el-p not as pretentious as talib, yet unfortunately he doesnt love h.e.r. like his fellow chi mate..ahh well, hopefully his clothes go platinum… and delorium is delorean? none are Delorian! – God Bless , keep doin your thing… one.

    ps. here is one artist you wont have to worry about stayin w/ the same content . mj like

  2. I’m a mega-fan. Can’t wait for the next 2 albums… and everything else inbetween. Many knowledge-bombs were dropped in “Food & Liquor”.

  3. Great interview..He definitely brought one of the better hip hop albums of 2006 along with Roots, The Game and Nas..Lupe Fiasco’s got a bright future ahead of him in both his own albums and production/studio work, etc.

    Looking forward to more from him..

  4. Yeah but can Lupe really skate? Everyone wants to know. I’ve never seen anyone grill him on why there is no shots of him actually doing tricks in the video (they are all from behind, or from the waste up). Or the cover of Billboard where he is rolling (supposedly) on cobble stone.

    Props to the kid though, I liked the album, and he comes off composed and intelligent. I just wish he would confront the skating situation once and for all. Cause that one question about skating was a softball underhanded pitch. Before anyone says I’m hating. All I am saying is there are a lot of people on the fence about Lupe Fiasco, particularly the skater community, who don’t seem to believe that he can actually skate, and that it is just some marketing ploy.

  5. Wasalu…keep speaking about Islam like you’ve been doing (on songs, interviews, etc.) Keep dropping that da’wah….best. rapper. out.

  6. i’m not certain that it’s that serious of a deal, j nizzle, but i have read an interview with lupe where he says he dabbles in skateboarding but that by no means does he proclaim to be intrenched in the lifestyle to the point of being an ambassador of the skating community (perhaps i addlibed a bit. but you get the gist)…i really feel like the public wants so badly to corner an artist into one market that afterward that artist can never seem to escape…try to see more than just “kick, push” and the billboard magazine cover and realize that there’s a lot more to him than what you read…besides, the more we read all of this the less we really know anyway, artists don’t don’t live on the internet and in magazines, don’t believe the hype dude…you gotta love him or leave him alone.

    Transition :
    ICI C’est la France
    You don’t know the french rap ! is real because every rap is real
    because rap is real
    so you can understand a big emcee from french
    because the language is not a problem
    the flow is here too
    so : check it ! it’s just an exemple
    New school sound! but il y a aussi des old shool too …

    LOOk feat with US rapper because is good for the people us but after listen just the french rap … i don’t speak wery well english but the rap is the rap you know what i’m say !!!!

    Kool shen – Too shoot VI MY PEOPLE feat Big ali
    Ol kainry feat raekwon – de park hill à 91pise
    113 feat mobb deep Рl̩cole du crime
    Rohff feat the game – Tof of the world

    Albums big sold in france, hardcore
    Booba – Ouest side
    Rohff – Au dela de mes limites
    Sinik – Sang Froid

    Mafia k’1 fry (it’s a crew hardcore) new album coming soon

    The rap is a lot OF good rapperz : so check rap all over the world
    and in France !
    iT’s a bizness and a market here too
    the second/third nation of the rap


  8. Lupe has come with a lyricl genius that not many people have or cando so The emperor has a bright fuure in hip-hop.

  9. i sO LoVe tHis dUdE
    He’S sOmeThiNg fReSh
    i LoVe hOw hE’S cooL
    JusT cHiLL
    hIs LyriCs aRe pHEnoMEnaL
    hE’S tRueLy aN arTisT

  10. toot toot!! lupe fiasco is a reeaalll bad man hip hopper fo’real. the lyrics are too exclusive, and i cant wait for the future albums to come cos i know true stories that this nigga us gonna explode. i enjoyed readin the interview. still keepin it grounded like the album and i feel that in a big way. keep the teachings coming.
    big boi props too lupe straight from london

  11. Sup man. Dig your clothes very fresh dig that BAPE gear and your music is pretty PHat.I am from Australia and I’m in this real funk band. I guess we sort of mc like Anthony kiedis dose from the chilli peppers. Same genre of music I guess. Well I think your one pretty tight well round mc if that’s what you like to be called. Later

    Kung Foo!!!

  12. your fresh- real and sweet and i hope you stay humble amidst the fame- Lupe your lyrics continue to make me feel, dance, smile -cry, think and reflect what kind of a world we livin in and how lucky i am to live in NEW ZEALAND!!! CHOICE BRO!! caught tha auckland concert-
    so jay-z-
    that shit uncanny-
    you get me thinkin in rhymes
    that never lie-aquainted withyou last year
    learnt who you were this weekend
    consumed with your work -your dream- you made real-
    well done lupe- you the real deal,
    we can be the students and you can be the teacher- tell these here jiggas wha they needa hear–
    you were my new day–all today-yesturday and the next day- GET NZ SOME TRILLION TRULY!




  14. ok so, Lupe’s new line, i havent seen it yet, where can i get a glimpse…maybe even buy a lil some some.

  15. yo
    does anyone know the sicka*s black long sleeve shirt lupes wearing on ellen degeneres when he performes superstar…the one with the stars kinda…its awesome id pay a lot of money for it
    thanks guys

  16. The man from da CHI; Lu; ay bra keep doin wat u do. U gotta bright future ahead of you and remember you like a breath of fresh air. So go on and kick push and shed no tear when we’re not hear and keep the
    faith as we chase the cool. U aight Wasalu!!!!!

  17. So yea I checked out the John Lenon Chucks he was talking bout, cuz u know that’s all im fucking with,…them and laced authentic Vans, and dunks of course,…looking at Supra’…but anywho…DAMN!! them joints is cold!! I’ll definately have to find something to wear with those when I cop!! Easy! Chitown Stand up!!

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