The music industry is a dog eat dog world. Any aspiring artist will concur that getting recognition and making a living as a musician is a near impossible endeavor. Although myspace revolutionized the path to success for countless artists, we can’t all be as fortunate as Soulja Boy and Cassie.
4 years ago Lupe Fiasco managed to rise from the ashes of mediocrity and establish himself in the music industry. Lupe received instant recognition and praise for his lyrical complexity and vicious flow, rooted in his debut single Kick-Push. In an era where many proclaimed hip-hop to be dead/dying, Lupe’s debut album Food and Liquor seemed to counter this pessimistic outlook.
For the few musicians that attain fame, even fewer reach their desired level of popularity staying true to their artistic integrity. Once one has “made it,” its equally challenging to hold on to this stardom and continue selling records. The hip-hop world is one of the more difficult genres to maintain relevance in. Everyone thinks they can rap or produce these days and whats “hot” to the fans changes at a rate that is difficult to follow not only as a listener but as a musician.
Lupe’s success was based on his unique sound. What made Lupe so noteworthy was his defiance of the growing trend of making pop songs with catchy hooks and bass-bumping beats. 2006 gave rise to songs like “Throw Some D’s,” which certainly signified a fatal demise to hip-hop. Lupe spearheaded a revival of rap. Take a look at the top 106 Rap Songs of 2006. Lupe is on the list several times and happens to hold the number one spot (Day Dreamin’…classic!).
It’s 2010, a new decade of hip-hop has begun. 4 years, 2 albums and millions of dollars later where is the Midwestern Messiah? To countless fans, Lupe is dead and gone. His sophomore album The Cool received mixed reviews. Food and Liquor reached No. 2 on Billboard’s chart and although “Superstar” was a hit for Lupe, his sophomore album was a disappointment to many hip-hop enthusiasts. Critics debate whether Lupe went out of his element by becoming more “pop-like” or whether it was actually a critique of the game’s pop renaissance through irony. Personally, I feel Lupe didn’t “Dumb it Down” with The Cool but the production and style (not lyricism) deviated from the original album.
For the year and a half, Lupe has been in a dispute with Atlantic Record Label. His album LupE.N.D, set to be his last, was rumored to be in the works for a 2009 release. Apparently, this didn’t sit well with the label and up until January of this year no one knew what was going on with Lupe Fiasco. To everyone’s pleasant surprise, Lupe and Atlantic reached an official verdict earlier this month. Lupe will be releasing his 2 additional albums (Lasers and The Great American Rap Album and then L.u.p. E.N.D. within the next few years. 3 more Lupe albums…I can dig it. Unfortunately my optimism was completely squandered after hearing Lupe’s debut single off of the new album.
As I stated earlier, staying true to one’s origins is a difficult demand in the music industry. Lupe has failed to do so. His latest single is bound to be a radio hit found in the same playlist as Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga. It’s a catchy tune and I’m sure my 12 year old sister will love it, but it’s not Lupe. Its easy to point the finger at the record label and make excuses for an artist who diverges from his foundations but at the end of the day Lupe f*cked up. Lupe dropped two tracks this week, listen to both and make an assessment. To my disappointment, the first track is his album single.
P.S.- I’m not saying this song is bad…I just hate that its by Lupe Fiasco and find it more fitting for B.o.B.