Remember the crazed rap backlash that occurred a few years ago? Every moral leader crawled out of the woodwork to say rap was “poisoning the youth,” or “corrupting the children,” as they tried to tell people that listening to “In da Club” or Three 6 Mafia was as bad as leaving your toddler with a machine gun.
Now, imagine all those arguments made sense and they came from someone who laid down some of the finest, most intoxicating beats in rap.
Bam, you have Lupe Fiasco, and he’s performing on Tuesday at the Peoria Civic Center.
I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Lupe’s music. I used to listen to “Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor” everyday at my first job in the summer of 2007. When I told Lupe this, he laughed and said one word:
Lupe Fiasco broke onto the scene with some verses in Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky,” and his skateboarding mega-hit “Kick, Push,” but more than anything he is known for the sense of morality and ethics he brings to the rap game.
Although he struggles with the popularity of violent and misogynistic themes in contemporary rap, he intends to project a different message to listeners.
“The problems are always going to be there,” Lupe said. “It’s still going to be glamorized. It’s still going to mislead the youth. I don’t want to be Superman, but at the same time, I definitely choose the road of being more positive and being the positive balance for the youth.”
Despite projecting a positive message that often stands to counter some of the godfathers of rap like Jay-Z or Biggie, Lupe protests he is not a role model.
“I’m definitely not a role model,” Lupe said. “It’s a small percentage of who I am, but it’s such a large percentage of the representation of what I say. You get my ideals but not my reality. You can’t be happy everyday. I definitely don’t want to put that in my music.”
Of course, the music is just as intriguing as the refreshing lyrics. Both “Food and Liquor” and Lupe’s second album, “The Cool” have touches of punk, funk, reggae and huge stadium-ready sounds. Part of this certainly comes from the artist’s long-standing love of other genres and his work in the punk group Japanese Cartoon.
Lupe says he misses the ferocity and the ethos of punk and, by extension, hip-hop.
“I think it’s [punk] the manifesto, the shock,” Lupe said. “Hip-hop was an extension of that, coming up out of poverty and standing up to authority, having the bravery to say ‘f*** the police.’ For the most part, hip-hop has been watered down. I’ve fallen in love with it, and I kind of miss it.”
For Tuesday, Lupe promises an energetic genre-bending show.
“You can expect a lot of energy and energy and energy,” Lupe said. “In hip-hop you really see people going 110 percent. People are actually making live performances a thing now.”