For someone who performed on HBO's Def Poetry with a "Hip-Hop is Dead" piece and is relatively stubborn in most matters; concerts rarely move me. With musicianship dwindling and substance fading; it has become an effort to spend the $40 that can fill my gas-guzzling S.U.V., on concert tickets.
Lupe Fiasco, is one of the rare exceptions.
When I take that first listen to a mix tape or witness a live performance that will be deemed classic or legacy; my eyes began to tear. My allegiance to hip-hop runs deep. (As rivers should be.) This kind of allegiance is reserved for the emcees I've watched grow & mature within the industry. It's reserved for men and women who take it upon themselves to rewrite every chapter of their lives into rhythm for the world's benefit. It is extraordinary beauty, when an emcee is so in debt to his art that the crowd becomes invisible and his performance brings everyone in the audience's mental to the same everlasting standstill he is experiencing. Fiasco doesn't only set the stage; He SETS THE STAGE. With glaring lights shimmering across his brown skin, a band with dynamic skill, and an individual who is not afraid to test any limits; be prepared for an outer body experience.
After revealing that this concert, on November 5th, 2009 at Old Dominion University, would be the last venue of the Cool tour, he burst into a set that clearly depicted how he felt about reaching this milestone. For an artist to go on a 2-year tour with one album with ticket sales never faltering, is remarkable. Hip-Hop fans sometimes underestimate the Superstar who has Kicked and Pushed his way to Paris and Tokyo while Daydreaming of the day Hip-Hop would save his life. For the listeners who've only heard the mainstream singles and the club-goers who've only nodded their heads to "I Gotcha"; you're truly missing out. Fiasco's songs envelop and overlap each other. There are clues within his albums that lead to the next song, chronicles that connect, and characters that keep reappearing. Not only is he a lyricist and a musician; the man is a storyteller.
As a teenage poet/emcee; I found myself performing at the top of stairs, on lunchroom tables, and anywhere I could call a stage. I began to conform those impromptu performances after listening to "some" judgemental peers who found my poetry to be a bit too energetic. However, after every Lupe concert I've ever been to, I reconnect with that former self. Lupe reminds me that its okay to be yourself on stage, to have fun while saving the world one song at a time, or lace the audience's ears with words you know to be true. As I stood in the cluster pushed against the stage's boundaries, fans voices booming left and right, quoting everything Fiasco relayed through his microphone; I fell in love again. I'm in a committed relationship with Hip-Hop. I've pledged my allegiance on the cellophane covers of albums, lost my hearing to the blaring of headphones, and developed a tick from nodding my head so hard to each producers cadence.
Fiasco loves his microphone. He sways it like a conductor flailing his baton and the crowd is his orchestra. He jumps up and down, back flips, throws water bottles into the crowd, and sings to the stage lights. I promise you, he often forgets we are there while he croons to HIS hip-hop. We are both in love with the same person and this is where the connection between fan and musician begin.
Lupe was clearly perturbed that he wasn't on the MTV list of top emcees. I went off on Twitter when i found out he wasn't either. He stated after talking about the MTV list, "I can't f*ck with Eminem, but I've got everyone else covered." Blogs have taken what he said out of proportion. He is doing something that most rappers do. He is speaking the truth into existence. Lil' Wayne (I can't believe I'm saying his name on my blog...again) stated, "I'm the best rapper alive." Two years ago we all thought he'd lost his mind for saying this. However, those same people who identified him as crazy are the same ones who are calling him exactly that nowadays. What Fiasco says is true; he CAN give it to EVERYONE on the "MTV List." The real L.F. fans, who know his lyrical capability and how far ahead of his time he is, can appreciate the previous statement.
For an emcee like Lupe Fiasco to be on the top of such a list, that is internationally looked upon, is a major accomplishment. It leaves me with a glow to watch young boys idolize a man who encompasses more morals and values than any other emcee I've ever listened to. Take a look at numbers 2-7 on the list, listen to what their singles portray, and and ask me if you want your sons and daughters to identify with that.
"I wish I could f*&k every girl in the world?"
"Hold on Taylor, I'm gonna let you finish..."
"I need a 5-Star chick?"
While in the stadium indulge in your more "positive" surroundings. Fine tune your ears, feel the bass in your heart, and open your eyes and take a look around you. Watch Fiasco get on one knee and spit the first verse of "Sunshine" to the most insecure girl in the crowd. Witness him pass his beloved mic to the 12-year-old up front who knows every song verbatim. Listen to your favorite emcee tell you how much he loves and appreciates you for what you've done for him; with tears in his eyes and a frog in his throat. Now step outside the stadium; observe the "now" elevated minds banter excitedly in Lasers and Trilly & Trully shirts; consciousness on their tongues. Walk home to your hood; look out for the boys who were destined to be gang bangers and drug dealers, hop on skateboards and throw up the CRS sign. Let the images reoccur in your mind, let that tingling feeling spread from the tip of your fingers to your crown, and most importantly remember.....to.....smile.