observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Make Sure You're Game is Tight

I have been wanting to write about Lupe Fiasco’s journey since I saw him at the Ecko ‘Save The Rhino’ jam. And the quote from Ian’s blog finally gave me the motivation. I have also wanted to comment on Little Brother’s Titerniagate. And the final piece of this post is the leak of the new Jigga track.

What ties these together? “Know Thy Audience’
Jay Z knows his audience with unprecedented accuracy.
Little Brother and Lupe better learn…quick.

Let’s start with Lupe. When he showed up to the Ecko jam without a DJ and had my man Neil Nice from Ecko spin for him I saw a big red flag. How do you have a monster record like “Kick, Push” and play one of the biggest venues in NYC without a DJ. Now maybe his DJ missed his flight or just got fired. I honestly don’t know and don’t like to throw stones, but regardless I thought it was a bad look. Then he performed and was underwhelming. I, like many others came to see Lupe more than the god, Rakim and put high expectations on his show. And that is when it first struck me that we may be building Lupe up for a fall.

After the Ecko show we did some interviews with him for the Festival and his interview game was also lacking. One word answers and overall uninspiring. Then he came to the Festival and delivered another ill received performance. After that I knew the underground was about to get him.

My theory on Lupe is that after the MTV debut of the ‘Touch The Sky’ video his project was rushed. Not so much rushed by Atlantic (you know I don’t do record label hating) but rushed by the public. We wanted him. And we wanted him now. We wanted our savior. We wanted Kanye’s heir. Why? Because there hasn’t been a real star in our world since Black Star. There was Little Brother and we will get to them later. We needed a new leader and after one verse and a video we crowned Lupe.

But I am not sure we ever asked Lupe if he wanted the job or asked if he was ready to take it. So what happened was we pushed him into the spotlight too soon. The result was boring interviews and ill prepared stage shows. And just like that the Hip-Hop police tossed him aside and now await their next victim.

And he didn’t help either. I don’t think he ever knew what he was getting into. He never took the time to assess the situation. He should have realized what people expected from him and either deliver or re-position himself. If he didn’t want to be the new prince he should have made that known and then tell us clearly what he did want. And then do it. Instead he let us put him in a box that didn’t fit. So when he says things like, “I don’t know one Tribe song by heart” we look at him like he has three heads. ‘Who is this impostor? Off with his head.’

Is it fair? Absolutely not, but as they say ‘it is what it is.’ Whether you agree or not you must at least understand that axiom. So now I shudder as I see the dream of Lupe silently fall apart. He was on MTV2’s My Block Chicago essentially pissing on all his demographics. To the skaters he looked like an interloper. To the ‘hood he looked like a deserter and to the idealists he looked apathetic. What is he? I am not sure. I know he has skills and brings something different to the game that we can all sense. I hope that he sorts it out before we kill another one of our own.

I get to Jigga and LB another time.


Blogger hardCore said...

or maybe...the skateboarder/eccentric black hip hopper thing works pretty damn well on one song....but doesn't play out as...interesting over an album.

at the end of the day....hip hop buys ineresting, not necessarily skills. sometimes the two line up, but not always. pac is hip hop's biggest selling artist because he was the most interesting. great interviews, a larger than life persona, and too damn spontaneous for his own good.

i don't think the majority of us find our friends very interesting. and people who remind us of our friends, even if they have skills behind a mic, seem to leave us just as uninterested.

October 17, 2006 5:54 PM

Blogger Swifty said...

excellent point

October 18, 2006 12:13 PM

Anonymous Stone said...

First off, acts like Lupe should not be handled by major record companies. They're all about big profits and Lupe needs to be nurtured over time to become successful.

Second, word to what hardcore said. People don't sell music anymore, they sell lifestyles. Hip-hop people like artists that not cause they can relate to them, but because they want to be them. That's why flash, bling, and gangsterism will continue to sell.

October 18, 2006 2:39 PM

Blogger Swifty said...

word up. I have always said we need to create a middle ground where the right artist can get the push without the whole machine.

Somewhere above indie heavyweight but below six figures in the 1st week.

October 18, 2006 2:58 PM

Anonymous dan said...

well, i also think it was a mistake letting his production company handle most of the cd. while i totally support the idea of havin one or two producers score an entire project, as it provides continuity, it just so happens that 1st and 15th are REALLY underwhelming. every single song sounds the same.

they're not bad tracks, they're just boring. so i think he should have used someone else.

not only that, but he's being pigeonholed, and it's not his fault. at least he's not doing what little brother is doing and pigeonholing himself on purpose. while i love 9th and think he has skills, how many times can we hear the '94 style resurrected? i could do that shit in my sleep at this point. yeah, it sounds nice, but let's not be all nostalgic and yet at the same time complain that "there's no innovation in hip hop." please.

October 18, 2006 3:53 PM

Blogger Swifty said...

I didn't realize 1st and 15th did the whole record. I only listened to the leak. Haven't got my hands on the real version.

October 18, 2006 3:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

. I, like many others came to see Lupe more than the god, Rakim and put high expectations on his show. .

Well that would be your opinion. I was there and that was too the contrary. I saw more people wanting to see Rakim than Lupe.
Lupe did what he could do. He just does not have that personality.

October 18, 2006 10:56 PM

Blogger Swifty said...

Thank you all for contributing to this post. Haven't had this much action since me and Joey argued about the minimum age for NBA rookies.

Hopefully the brother will get better as he goes through the grind of promoting 'Food and Liquor.' My favorite groups, De La and Tribe, were notorious for their terrible shows at first. Now look at them

October 19, 2006 10:11 AM

Anonymous Lupe Fiasco said...

I caught wind of this through my daily Googling of my own name to see whats new in the world...

soooo I get shot for not living up to something that I didnt even want?...I dont want your admiration or your acceptance...I dont own any Tribe Called Quest CD's...Never did...never wil...so I dont know this throwback 94' sound that you speak of...and for that matter how to emulate it...but why is that a prerequisite of being "down"? hahaha....if you dont like it...dont buy it...dont buy concert tickets...dont read my blogs...or my interviews...or visit my websites...let me be...whether I had a DJ or not aint your concern but why is that a prerequisite for authenticity to you?...why is that important to you?...not everyone lives by the same rules or follows the same guidelines...my dream is fufilled not deferred one bit...my dream was to put out a good album...which I did...I have no delusions of granduer about saving the hood and being the best mc alive...just putting out a good album...and according to every major publication on earth that has reviewed the album thats what I did...stop attacking a persons modus operandi if you dont know him...the hood and the idealists lack one thing, Action!...thats why I have no deep intent to be with either party...if you wanna comment on something that is meaningful and not the distraction that is Lupe Fiasco...thats right just a distraction...NEVER FORGET THAT...talk about how Bush just dismantled the institution of Habeus Corpus...discuss the dynamics and reprecussions of that...discuss the changing of the guard in Congress that is about to take place and what that means for regular people in the coming years...stop talking about my show in Central Park and talk about something with purpose and substance...theorize on the subconconcious effects that hip-hop will have on the generation that is being trained on the MOST NEGATIVE music on earth right now and how they will be when they are 30 or 40 years old...talk about the lack of reaction to injustice in America today...talk about that...cuz until you do...respectfully my brother you aint talking bout shit...Me & another rapper/distraction you target to be the subject of one of your "theories"

Peace, Respectfully yours...Lupe Fiasco

October 28, 2006 6:54 PM

Blogger Swifty said...

first of all if this indeed Lupe (there is no way to tell sometines)thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

Let me start by saying I am not one of those smart ass bloggers who simply like to throw stones and hide behind anonymity.

Second, I agree that there are more important things than me or you. You can see this by reading more of the blog where I address many of the issues you mentioned. Not so much politics because I think there are too many bloggers who do it better than I.

If you don't like Tribe and have no interest in 'saving the hood', you are right that is your perogative. And what I think is irrelevant.

My intention was not to attack you or your m.o. It was to point out the schism that your post confirms. What some of your fans think of you and what you are are not the same. The interesting question I wanted to raise was why? And I intended to put the "blame" on the fans, me, us.

The dream of Lupe I referred was not your dream but the dream or better yet image we wrongfully created for you. The dream was the box we put you in that you understandably resent.

After listening to 'Kick, Push' or 'Touch the Sky' I would have never thought you never owned (and never will) own a Tribe album. But that is me. I clearly didn't get it. And the reality is I don't think I am alone. And again that disconnect is noteworthy.

I have no idea what happened at the Ecko show and whether or not you had a DJ is ultimately none of my business. I do think that a DJ is important, certainly not required to 'be down.' But again we do not agree on this point. And as you accurately state 'not everyone lives by the same rules.'

I will end this long winded comment the same way I ended the post. On a positive note. The fact that you are satisfied with your album and the execution of it is great. Because most people live unfulfilled lives filled with regret. If you are happy with your own work then that is all that really matters. I wish you the best of luck as I think you are a positive force in Hip-Hop. That is why me and my staff worked so hard to get you to the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. The fact that you google yourself is pretty dope in and of itself.

So whatever for big mouth bloggers. What do they know anyway? LOL

Hold on, one last thing I think you are more than a distraction. I think you can save the hood, even if it is just one boy or girl. And you should buy 'Midnight Marauders.' It's not a bad record to own.

October 29, 2006 9:22 AM

Anonymous Kwis said...

Eh, if you're going to buy one album it should be Low End Theory.

November 01, 2006 12:39 AM

Blogger stylus said...

why do a tribute if you don't even like the group??????? dumb shit.

October 06, 2007 5:35 AM


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