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 wasn't 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.
|Label||1st & 15th/Atlantic|
|Writer(s)||Lupe Fiasco (Wasalu Muhammad Jaco), Skylar Grey (Holly Hafermann), Alexander Grant|
|Producer(s)||Alex Da Kid|
|Musician(s)||Lupe Fiasco, Skylar Grey (vocals)|
A Tribe Called Quest
Dan Charnas: The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop (2010)
A new book probing the question that has probably disturbed Lupe Fiasco the most in his career: how can hip-hop integrity reconcile itself to hip-hop profitability?
S. Craig Watkins: Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement (2006)
An overview of the issues faced by the so-called hip-hop generation that analyzes both the history and the future of hip-hop as a movement.
A disappointment to most critics and more than a few fans, Lasers was nonetheless a commercial success, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts.
Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (2007)
This concept album builds off the track by the same title on Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor.
Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor (2006)
Fiasco's debut solo album was a huge critical success and made an immediate name for Fiasco (it didn’t hurt that Kanye West and Jay-Z were both in the production credits.)
Lupe Fiasco, fashionista
For all his anti-corporate rhetoric, the man runs not one but two fashion companies (Righteous Kun-Fu and Trilly & Truly). Good thing he's got style!
Lupe the friendly guy
Fiasco is known in part for his cerebral, sweet approach to music and life.
Lupe with Jay-Z
Jay-Z "discovered" Lupe and helped him get his first solo record deal. Jay says Lupe at 23 reminded him of himself when he was younger.
Cover of Lasers (2011)
Fiasco goes right in for the anarchist symbol, which transforms the word "Losers" into "Lasers."
Cover of Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor (2006)
Lupe Fiasco is surrounded by the paraphernalia that he says reveals his identity: a Banksy postcard, a Qu'ran, a robot, a sketchbook and a Nintendo DS.
The People Speak (2009)
Fiasco performs in this film based on Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, a well-known history textbook that focuses on stories of poor people, immigrants, and people of color.
Lupe Fiasco Official Site
Get music, videos, and hundreds of photos, plus tour dates from Lupe Fiasco.
The LupE.N.D. Blog
Keeping us abreast of Lupe Fiasco's seemingly fictitious retirement album.
LASERS: A review of reviews
MTV goes over the best and worst of the reviews for Lasers.
"Lupe Fiasco Responds to Lasers Leak And Negative Reviews" (2011)
Fiasco was hurt, to say the least, by the middling reviews his much-anticipated album received.
"Words I Never Said" Official Video (2011)
This take on the song is relatively predictable, but still engaging to watch.
Lupe Fiasco on Tavis Smiley (2011)
Fiasco breaks down his views on electoral politics, calling the system "unfair and biased."
The Lasers Manifesto (2011)
This track is referenced in the "Words I Never Said" Music Video.