Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco

Self-dubbed “the cool nerd,” Lupe Fiasco has built a reputable career on reaching beyond the self-aggrandizing, misogynistic, and often homophobic nature of hip-hop and instead offering up points of introspection and self-enlightenment. An Islamic MC from Chicago’s West Side, Lupe Fiasco was born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco on Feb. 16, 1982. His mother, Shirley, was a gourmet chef, and his father, Gregory, was a member of the Black Panther Party, in addition to owning karate schools and army surplus stores.


Having been rapping since childhood, Fiasco became a member of a hip-hop group called Da Pak, and signed to Epic Records at the age of 19. While Da Pak only released one single before splitting up, this led to a solo deal for Fiasco, with Arista Records. However, when Arista CEO LA Reid was fired, Fiasco’s solo deal went up in flames as well. His big break came when he was featured on Kanye West’s 2005 track “Touch the Sky,” a scene-stealing cameo good enough to grab the attention of hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.


With the help of hip-hop’s biggest star, Lupe Fiasco released his debut, Food & Liquor, which was received with much critical praise. Featuring the song “Kick, Push,” a track about being rejected for doing what you love to do (in this case skateboarding), Fiasco’s sagacity and willingness to set himself apart gave him mass appeal to both hip-hop enthusiasts and a more indie-centric crowd. Food & Liquor ultimately led to three Grammy nominations as well as GQ Magazine lauding him “Breakout Man of the Year.”


With the help of top-10 single “Superstar,” Fiasco’s second album, Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, proved to be his commercial breakthrough, with album sales of over 900,000 in the U.S. alone. With darker themes abounding, Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool found the MC dealing with the recent death of his father as well as the death of his friend, Stack Bundles. In addition to this, Fiasco’s business partner Charles “Chilly” Patton was sentenced to 44 years in prison. In spite of all this tragedy, or perhaps because of it, The Cool is a musical juggernaut, expertly balancing elements of hip-hop with string-enhanced cinematic flourishes, shades of rock, and even straightforward pop.


Fiasco’s third full-length, Lasers -- an acronym for the somewhat preposterous "Love Always Shines Everytime Remember 2 Smile" -- is due out in 2010. ~Bruce Scott

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