First thing’s first: in a not-so-distant past life, I very well may have been one of those dudes out there getting ready to protest on Fiasco Friday, clamoring for Lupe Fiasco to get a release date.

So when his new single, “The Show Goes On,” came out last night, you better believe I clicked and listened right away. After listening, I was happy. I know that’s a pretty bland description, but that’s honestly how I felt.

And I’m still pleased this morning, after having now listened to it multiple times. Not just because it’s a new Lupe record, and whenever I get a new track by an artist I’m into, I’m generally excited. I just think the song is pretty dope and able to do what it needs to without sacrificing much.

First—and this is only first because it seems like the events in recent months have shown us it has to be—the song is one that the label has gotta be pleased with. It’s catchy. It’s sing-songy. It samples what was a huge hit. It should be able to hit on radio. It has a big-name producer (Kane Beatz) on the boards.

A while back, a track surfaced that was an original recording of what would become B.o.B.’s No. 1 hit, “Nothin’ On You,” but it had Fiasco spitting the verses, rather than Bobby Ray. I don’t know why it didn’t end up happening the original way, but it may have been a case where dude didn’t want to feel like he was sacrificing his artistry just to appease the label.

That’s why I’m pleased that I can say I felt like Lupe stayed true to himself with this one. I have no way of knowing if this is the case or if, in fact, he made this record completely to appease the label. But I really don’t think that’s the case, and it doesn't feel like he's selling out, or whatever you'd call it. I mean, the first verse might as well have named “Atlantic Records,” opening his verse asking, “Have you ever had the feeling that you was being had?” He added talk of “they treat you like a slave,” “don’t let nobody play me,” and “even if they ban us, they’ll never slow my plans up.”

The next two verses are full of some uplifting, positivity type talk—but that’s not necessarily a new approach for Chi-town Guevara. What’s more, it’s a welcomed angle in this current climate of hip-hop. All the while, he maintains his ability to be the lyrical dude that we know him for. Now, this song definitely is not on some “Dumb It Down,” “Shining Down” type level (do his most lyrically intricate songs have to have “Down” in the title?), but “The Show Goes On” still shows Lupe’s technical skills. And, technically or any other way you wanna cut it, he's a beast.

What do you guys think? Does this feel like an organic Lupe Fiasco record, or like something he did because the label needed a single if we were ever going to get that Lasers album? Do you think it'll be a hit? What did it do for your level of anticipation for his album? —Adam Fleischer

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