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Intro

In a Nutshell

Lupe Fiasco had it all. He was a fierce, independent-minded rapper with flow and personality. He was bubbling over with musical ideas while bringing identity, humor, and politics to the foreground in his lyrics. He had the backing of some of the biggest names in hip-hop, and he had a contract with historic Atlantic Records, a powerful subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

That last little bonus, however, may have been where Fiasco went wrong. When Lasers, originally intended as Fiasco's three-disc retirement manifesto, finally hit the shelves in early 2011, it spawned a petition and an international protest, and was embroiled in controversy. Fan expectations were sky-high, but Lupe's morale was low: he complained that, due to Atlantic's influence over the album's creativity, Lasers was not what it could have been.

"Words I Never Said," a fiery song about political silence and censorship, was one of the things that kept the album from completely falling flat. Even so, it was the work of an anti-corporate poet in a corporate world. Read on to find out how—or maybe if—Fiasco resolves the contradiction.

About the Song

ArtistLupe Fiasco Musician(s)Lupe Fiasco, Skylar Grey (vocals)
AlbumLasers
Year2011
Label1st & 15th/Atlantic
Writer(s)Lupe Fiasco (Wasalu Muhammad Jaco), Skylar Grey (Holly Hafermann), Alexander Grant
Producer(s)Alex Da Kid
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Kanye West brought Lupe Fiasco his breakthrough, and Jay-Z was an executive producer on his first album. These two are emblematic of the fame and riches available to rappers who make it big these days. To some, they are also emblematic of the wholesale corporatization of hip-hop. When Jay and 'Ye first took Lupe under their wing, it seemed like he was about to become the next big thing, reviving the sometimes-stale world of commercial rap with clever, controlled, and often brilliant rhymes. It was even suggested that Fiasco would be a "savior" of sorts.

Does hip-hop need a savior, though? Dead Prez, Mos Def, and others might not think so, pointing out that success in hip-hop hasn't always been so firmly linked to top 40s hits and Kanye and Jay's radio-friendly productions. It's the people's music. To some, it seems like Lupe Fiasco lost track of that fact and walked down the wrong road with Lasers. To most, "Words I Never Said" is just the sort of gem that still makes Fiasco one of new millennium hip-hop's high hopes, whether they're seeking catchy pop, clever lyricism, or ::gasp:: both.

On the Charts

"Words I Never Said" debuted and peaked at #89 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Lasers debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in March 2011, making it Fiasco's highest-charting album.
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