After experiencing the biggest selling debut week of his career with the recent release of his third solo album, Lasers, Lupe Fiasco is ready to open up and go into specific details about his struggle to release the record in XXL’s forthcoming May 2011 issue.
Contributing writer Thomas Golianopoulos had the opportunity to sit-down with the outspoken MC to discuss his uphill battle with label home Atlantic Records to put out the long delayed disc—which, at one point, was doomed to never see the light of day.
Lu revealed to XXL that in 2009 Atlantic froze his budget on Lasers because they were unhappy with what they had heard so far of the album. The decision was crippling and Fiasco says caused him to contemplate suicide. “It follows you everywhere,” he said of the depression that overtook him. “The way you rationalize things gets titled through that mentality.” In the song “Beautiful Lasers,” from the disc, Lupe mentioned keeping a gun on his table. “That was literal,” he admits. “I own a ton of them.”
The gifted wordsmith’s devoted fan base eventually came to his aid and was able to help Lupe get another shot after organizing a boycott outside Atlantic’s New York offices last October. Fans also came out to the stores, and picked up over 204,000 copies of Lasers, once the disc finally hit shelves in early March, making it the No. 1 album on the Billboard Top 200 for that week.
But don’t expect that joyous achievement to change his outlook on the record business. Asked how he felt about the Billboard accomplishment, the Windy City native replied, “I wasn’t completely overwhelmed, because now I have to go into the business meetings,” he said. “Now I’m waiting for, ‘If you didn’t say you hated the album in that interview, we would have done 300,000,’” he added.
Fiasco admitted that he made a more poppy sounding album than he would have liked with Lasers and isn’t proud of the artistic compromises he had to make. While he might not feel comfortable making pop music, Lupe is confident with his skills on the mic; even going as far as calling himself one of the best lyrical MCs in the game at the moment. “I can actually make the argument, seriously, that, Yo, I’m better than all y’all,” he boasted. “You have people who can say that. Jay-Z can say that. Eminem can say that. Canibus can say that—if we are going line for line. If you want to relate me to the newer cats, let’s go. Let’s go line for line and bar for bar. If it’s all about spitting and metaphors and MCing and lyrics and entendres, I will eat 99 percent of you dudes up.”
In addition to the cover story on Lupe, XXL’s May issue also includes a comprehensive breakdown of all of the important moments in Wiz Khalifa’s career since he landed a spot on XXL’s 10 Freshmen for ’10 cover, seen through the eyes of the Pittsburgh artist himself. G.O.O.D. Music signee and fellow XXL Freshmen classmate Big Sean also speaks on his fight to release his debut, Finally Famous. Furthermore XXL pays tribute to legendary hip-hop hook master Nate Dogg in the wake of his passing and investigates the death of the rhyme notebook. With the upcoming release of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s highly anticipated Watch the Throne disc, XXL takes a look back on the history of rap collaboration album projects and why they are so hard to pull off.
To read these stories and much more, be sure to cop XXL’s May 2011 issue, hitting newsstands nationwide on April 26. —XXL Staff