Friday, November 5, 2010

On Repeat: Lupe Fiasco - The Show Goes On

When you're a musician, inspiration can come from anywhere. Kanye West pieced together snippets from King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" for his single "Power", Lil Wayne and Eminem borrowed Haddaway's "What Is Love?" for their most recent collaboration, and now Lupe has gotten into the game with "Show Goes On" his first single of his upcoming LASERS, slated for a 2011 release. It might be too early to call Modest Mouse's "Float On" a classic (has it really been 6 years?), but Lupe does a fantastic job here of expanding and re-purposing the hook of the original while salvaging intricacies like the prickly guitar part that made it such a hit in the first place. His artistic liberties include an energetic brass section and an army of all-too-familiar tumbling drum hits, but the piece as a whole works surprisingly well due to Lupe's elastic delivery and brainy verses. I'm actually a little embarrassed about how long it took me to recognize the sample, and had to turn down the music to hum the chorus in my car until it came to me.

Shamefully, Lupe's name is rarely brought up when discussing the biggest and best in hip-hop. His first two albums were both critically acclaimed and commercially embraced, each selling over 500,000 copies, but in the 3 years since, he has remained virtually silent. Unlike most hip-hop personalities who would sooner die than have their names fade out of the spotlight, churning out mixtapes and guest verses at a dizzying rate, Lupe is one of the few that still subscribe to "Quality" over "Quantity", as evidenced by his lone mixtape, 2009's brilliant "Enemy of the State". Now that his tiff with Atlantic Records seems to have been smoothed over (his fans have had to picket and petition to get a release date), I can't wait to hear what Fiasco has up his sleeve for LASERS. Hopefully it's enough to get him back into the conversation.

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