Lupe Fiasco Speaks on Lasers [XXL Double Clicks]

[Editor's Note: Lupe Fiasco spoke on the trials and tribulations he went through while recording Lasers in the cover story of XXL's May 2011 issue. Here are some outtakes that didn't make the magazine.]

AS TOLD TO THOMAS GOLIANOPOULOS

Would “Airplanes” and “Nothin’ On You?” have been just as huge if they were your songs?

No.

Why?

B.O.B. made those records. He took those records where they needed to go. To say, if it was my records would they be different. For what? There is no way to know. When it first happened, it was me and Bob did the second verse. It was supposed to be me and Bob. Bob’s verse was what they wanted, it was like, ‘Why don’t you do that?’ I’m like, ‘Why don’t you give it to Bob.’ I remember Lyor was like, ‘Why did you let that record go?’ I’m like, ‘It’s the same money. It’s the same money I’m not going to get. It’s the same money you’re going to get. And you broke an artist, as what you should be doing. The way you did?’ Eh, I can’t really rock with those records because of the way they did the business. For me, it’s like, Who knows if it would be as big with me on it. Probably not. I’m already branded in a certain way. You got the people who fuck with Lupe and people who don’t fuck with Lupe. You have a whole industry that don’t fuck with Lupe. Some are malicious but they haven’t been acquainted with me and they’ve seem me do other things so they put me over here. It’s like, I’m not Nelly, I’m dead prez. The people who rock with Nelly aren’t as quick to rock with dead prez. But if it’s someone new, they are open to the forces of the market. With me, there are certain records that I would do that the radio stations wouldn’t play because it’s Lupe. It instantly starts to be, ‘Well, is it going to be weird?’ But then you get Bob and it’s like, ‘Who is this B.O.B. dude?’

It’s a preconception.
Yeah.

Like, ‘Oh it’s Lupe, he’s probably talking that off the wall, back to Africa shit again.’
That back to Africa shit again. It’s just the nature of the business.

What kind of people does the music business attract?

It destroys people. People come out of the music business fucked up because you have to become so numb to things and you have to do things completely against your morals. You are putting out the most negative shit in the world. I am specifically speaking about urban music departments. You have families and little kids and you are putting out records about people getting killed, people selling massive amounts of dope and all this negative crazy shit and you think that’s cool? And you are celebrating it like you are not having an impact on society? To them, it just becomes a job. It’s like the dude who just makes Coca-Cola or the guy who makes gas and doesn’t think about the environment. The things that you see specifically in the music business, it’s so visceral and so fucked up the things that people do and the things that people go through and the integrity and the work is completely stripped away so you don’t know who wrote what. You don’t know if that person is real. It’s like when you finally meet your hero, you realize he ain’t shit because they had nothing to do with the process. Some people are the greatest people on Earth with good hearts and will get in the studio and make the most negative music in the world for the sake of success. That’s what the music business does to you. That’s what capitalism does to you. When I look at how the product we create is the soundtrack to people’s lives, this shit is everywhere. I hate the music business with all my heart. I hate this shit. In the midst of doing Lasers, I was in Buffalo, New York and I called my partner and was like, ‘I quit. I can’t do this shit no more.’ Not even specifically because of what was going with Lasers. I’ve been in the music business for 10 years so I’ve seen all type of shit. You damn near 30 and you look back and are like, What the fuck am I doing? This business is bananas. It rips families apart, rips relationships apart, just destroys shit. You find yourself in some hotel room in the middle of nowhere and you’re like, What the fuck am I doing here? I was like, ‘I’m done.’ He was like, ‘C’mon man.’ Pep talk this. The only reason why I’m still in the music business is my partner Chill.

How confident are you in your rapping skills?

I think I’m pretty good. I’m just starting to find technically what I’m best at from a technical side. It’s kind of hard to explain because I can’t give you the context.

You were upset a few years back after you were omitted from MTV’s ‘Hottest MCs list. Then you put out “Fire,” the Enemy of The State mixtape and “SLR.” What do records like that mean to you?

They have a purpose. They are like demonstrations. It’s like showing off. It’s not really about telling a story or pushing an agenda even though I will sprinkle that stuff in here and there. It’s about showing the skill level off, like metaphors, double entendres, all of that good fun stuff. I know fans enjoy that. I don’t necessarily think that if I did a whole album of that I would sell records. It’s definitely something that I think is needed. If people leave you off of lists or people doubt that you can rap or think you have fallen off, it’s nice to have that avenue where you can step in and drop some 39-metaphor song.

FOR MORE LUPE FIASCO, GO TO PAGE 2

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  • http://thisis50.com PM

    There are some songs I expected to be on lasers like ”I’m Beaming” that where not on there. Now I know why, its a shame cause It seems to have been canalized to a point. Can’t say its my favored Lupe album, it is what it is. A while back Lupe said he would quit the business after 3 albums, thats 3 but Lupe can do better, I hope he does a few more records.

    • ezwelchman

      1) lupe said he would put out L.U.P.end…(which was suppose to span 3 parts, ie 3 albums) so he was never gonna quit after just 3 albums…
      2) atlantic wouldn’t let him do that (for the most part, thats the way i understood it anyway)
      3) lupe is putting out more records, the follow up to lasers has BEEN done…(food and liquor II: the great american rap album) (if you’ve heard that track “go to sleep” that was supposedly off that, altho i’m not sure it will be anymore)
      4) he said recently the next album is going to be more of the style lupe fans have become accustomed too (that is, the style he developed over the first 2 albums)

      so yes, that’s that…

  • cokey

    i appreciate lupe for his music and work ethic.
    to actually say its not about the money proves that this is much more than fame and fortune for him.
    some people just dont understand that sorta thing

  • http://Safari Ms. Maisha

    To Lupe:
    I’m an older person, and I really like your music. I’m out of the 60′s, i.e. 1960′s. I haven’t heard all of of your songs, but I know quite a few. I plan to buy Lasers. I am also Muslim. Why must profanity be in your lyrics? I’m from the hood too, a mother of seven and grandmother of eighteen. Please know that ALLAH is First and the Creator of everything. He sees you though you see Him not. When you entertain or must be creative and you are Muslim, you are one who is really creative. You must be, especially in this society. Continue to be creative. Read your Quran. Keep writing. I never really was a “cusser.” As a young girl, it never felt right because it was wrong. I have to hold back from cussing. It gets easier. I am a role model; my audience is smaller.

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  • mr. Chuchitz

    I always wondered about the industry and what it forces people to do. The question is Lupe, is it all worth it? How they market you? I read a contract from MTV once that said that if I signed, I would agree to accepting the prize, even if God showed up on earth. Seeing that, I knew there that the industry did know about God and that they were against him. Ever thought about making music that wasn’t secular?