Tuesday, October 9, 2007
The Lupe, Fiasco.

Props to Nahright on letting me know about the story, but heres my take.

A small controversy turned into something major when Lupe Fiasco, performed in honor of A Tribe Called Quest (ATCQ) recently at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors award show. In Lupe's cover of Electric Relaxation, Lupe messed up 2 bars of one of the verses. This only became a somewhat big deal because weeks prior to the awards show Lupe made it known that he wasnt a big fan of ATCQ growing up and wasnt familiar with it.

Well after the slip up, he defended himself by saying, rather obnoxiously, that he only did it because he was asked to by Q-Tip, the group's lead rapper. He also added in, that he still hadn't heard the Midnight Marauders album (which is considered by many to be ATCQ's best work, and one of the best hip hop albums of all time). Not only that, but ATCQ is held in nearly mythical status and is widely believed to be the second greatest hip hop group of all times (behind Wu-Tang). AND unfortunately for Lupe, his fanbase overlaps heavily with his because his music is so similar in so many ways to the kind of music ATCQ made, albeit much more ordinary, imho.

You can read more about the details of this whole saga here

What this got me thinking about was this is why hip hop sucks. Lupe Fiasco, who is so obviously operating in a space that wase created by ATCQ (regardless of whether he was personally influenced by them or not), is in essence refusing to listen to their work. This is a huge part of why Hip Hop in general and emceeing in particular is not growing. Lupe is not alone in thhis regard. Multi-Platinum selling artist The Game clumsily stumbled his way through a debut album name dropping albums, artists, executives, and their personal assistants, when he erroneously said this:
I woke up from a Coma in 2001/
the same time Dre dropped 2001/

The problem is, Dr. Dre didnt drop 2001 in 2001, he dropped it in 1999. And the problem with that is, The Game is from Los Angeles and this is DR. DRE we are talking about!! Whenever Dre drops an album, the earth stops spinning and the fighters in the middle east take a 2 week break from suicide bombs and straffing civilian buildings so they can digest the album Dre has put together. This is an album that sold 10 million copies worldwide, and he was put out on Dr. Dre's label for crying out loud!!!! This isn't so much an affront to Dre as it is an affront to the artform itself. An affront that no one but me and a few other purists care about. I take my craft seriously, and it bothers me that others, particularly those fortunate enough to be making a living from it, care very little about the art form.

Is there a Jazz Saxophonist of any stature who hasn't heard nearly every single note that Charlie Parker ever played? I doubt it. Why? Because Jazz is an art form where artists take their craft seriously and so do its listeners. Hip Hop is an art form, where all too often neither the artist, nor the teenage fans they are trying to win over, takes the art form seriously. These are problems inherent in the demographic that most hip hop targets and its also a problem in terms of what purpose hip hop is trying to serve. Jazz musicians want to be artists and want to make music that is respected as art. Rappers want to be rich and want to make music that makes them rich.

Did I mention that these labels and this industry seems wholly divorced from any understanding of what hip hop could be? I mean do all black people really sell crack or love Louis Vitton? I'm just saying. But most of these new 'artists' are not 'artists' at all, they are products, not even original products, just an old product with a new package and a new shape. I can't wait to take over hip hop.

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3 Comments:
Blogger Big C said...
I think Lupe is getting too full of himself. At the same time don't I have a problem that he did not listen to A Tribe Call Quest growing up. We have to look at the where he grew up. He is from Chi-town. From my experience many people that grew up in that area did not listen to many east coast rappers. Not only that he has not been listening to rap all his life. This craft of writing rhymes is pretty much new to him. He grew up as a muslim where he was introduced to rap where it was frowned on. The few chance that he did get to listen to rap was through is father listening to N.W. A. Or maybe even the likes of Hammer. lol

So put the two combinations together as far as, growing up in Chitown+his age+how rap was introduced to him and you get Lupe Fiasco.


What I have a problem with is, if he had problems with ATCQ why did he do the hip hop honors? No one forced him to do it. Lupe is a man and he has a mind of his own. He made a mistake performing and needs to own up to his mistake instead of going on the defensive side. Not only did he mess up performing but his comments afterwards were alarming. He went on to say that he would never listen to ATCQ. Why the disrespect Lupe? Also if he is an artist he is suppose to be professional. Study your craft and memorize your lines.

I think Lupe's beef with Q-Tip is bigger than just rap. I can not see Lupe going off on another rapper like this. These are two muslim men that probably have heard or known about each other. I could be wrong, but I think Lupe taking shots at Q-Tip is bigger than what the general public knows.

I also feel that it is not just Lupe that does not acknowlege hip hop greats but the young generations could care less. It is not just rap. It is history in general.

-BigC www.realknicks.com

Blogger Kai said...
Big c I agree with your criticisms of Lupe, although I wasn't being critical of the fact the he hadn't listened to them growing up, he can't help that. I'm critical of the fact the he hasn't listened to them yet, and he raps for a living, and basically owes part of his existence to them, whether he was personally influenced by them or not.

OpenID Tycity said...
I think its these old MC's in denial of there career being over that are full of there self ....just cause they had the game poppin back in the day they feel that any new dude making a name for they self is in debt with them like they single handedly bring new people into the spotlight

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