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artist information

Lupe Fiasco

Wasalu Muhammad Jaco (born February 16, 1982), better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco, is an American rapper. He came to fame in 2006 following the success of his debut album, Food & Liquor, which received three Grammy nominations.

Biography

Early life

Raised on the west side of Chicago, Wasalu is the youngest of nine brothers. His father (died: February 27, 2007) was a prolific African drummer and karate teacher. His mother was a gourmet chef. Lupe began to rap when he was in the eighth grade, and began to pursue it at the age of seventeen.

Growing up, Wasalu had the nickname "Lu", the last part of his first name. "Lupe" is an extension of this nickname, which he borrowed from a friend named Lupe from high school. "Fiasco", he says, "came from the Firm album. They had the song, "Firm Fiasco." I just liked the way it looked on paper".

Early career

Lupe was signed to Epic Records with his group, "Da Pak", and later signed a solo deal with Arista Records. During this time, he had guest appearances on singles on Tha' Rayne's "Kiss Me" and "Didn't You Know" and also K Fox's 2004 "This Life". He also released the song "Coulda Been" on a 10/03 compilation of MTV's Advance Warning. He began releasing many mixtapes, glorifying himself as a hero of the nerd and middle class. Over time he began getting a huge fan base via the internet.

In 2004, Arista went out of business and Lupe was signed with Atlantic Records. In early 2006, Brian 'Busy' Dackowski of Atlantic Records approached Lupe and his friend/hypeman Dusean Bishop G Dunbar to start FNF Radio, a college radio station located at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The show is reported to have, on average, close to 6,000 listeners a night. The music featured on the show is mostly hip-hop and many of the songs played are either his own, or the artists on his label, 1st and 15th, as well as personal favorites or gag records. In between playing music, discussions are held on issues ranging from politics, music, sports, and entertainment. Also, 45 minutes into the show, a contest called the "freshen up package" is held where three questions are made up and the first person to call in with the correct answers, wins a prize.

Prizes have ranged from clothing packages and skateboarding items to compact discs. FNF radio is scheduled to air every Monday at 11:00 pm EST.

Rise to fame

Rapper Jay-Z, president of Def Jam Records, discovered Lupe and offered to sign him to Rocafella records (around the time of The Blueprint & The Black Album), but Lupe declined, having already started 1st and 15th Entertainment. Jay-Z decided to assist him in the production of his album Food & Liquor.

In 2006, he released his hit single "Kick, Push", a song heavily referencing skateboarding, which established himself as the antithesis of many mainstream rappers. As his popularity slowly increased, so did anticipation for his upcoming album Food & Liquor. The album was officially released on September 19, 2006 and became one of the most critically acclaimed rap albums of the year. Singles from the album were "Kick, Push", "I Gotcha" and "Daydreamin" featuring Jill Scott. In the same year, he was voted by GQ as the "Breakout Man of the Year". Food & Liquor was later nominated for three Grammys including "Best Rap Album".

Since going mainstream, Lupe has had requests from many other rappers to do guest appearances with him, including producer rapper Kanye West, East-Coast rap artist Fabolous and West-Coast rapper The Game.

There is a "top secret" project in the works with "another superstar rapper and someone who is a rapper/producer," but Lupe declined to reveal details, including whether the pairing was for a full album or just a handful of songs. A track featured on Kanye West's "Can't Tell Me Nothing" mixtape, called "Us Placers", features Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams, collectively known as CRS (Child Rebel Soldier). This has been confirmed as the secret project by sources close to the CRS camp.

Ventures

In January 2006, Lupe signed with major footwear and apparel corporation Reebok. Lupe has become a part of the "O.G" marketing campaign, where rap artists such as Lil' Wayne and Mike Jones designed their own personal colorway of the Reebok "O.G" model. He designed a white/grey model of the shoe.

Lupe is also known for his involvement in the "streetwear" culture. He frequently shows supports for brands such as Maharishi, FALSE/LMAC, Alife, CLOT, Dekoi and Artful Dodger.

Personal life

Religion

Lupe has been open about his Islamic faith. He showcased it in his underground remix of friend and collaborator Kanye West's "Jesus Walks", entitled "Muhammad Walks". He has noted the importance of religion in his life, stating:

Well, I was born Muslim, so Islam plays a part in my life and everything I do, to a certain extent. I'm not like the poster boy for Islam... I still got my flaws and stuff like that, so I don't really wear that on my sleeve... I don't go to clubs, I don't drink, I don't smoke, you know like my whole - the whole groupie situation is shut down.

The font of "Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor" on the cover art of Food & Liquor is stylized to look like that of Persian calligraphy, designed by New York artist Rostarr.

Influences

Lupe is highly influenced by Crucial Conflict and Nas among others. Lupe regards It Was Written as one of his favorite albums and cites it as his primary source of inspiration. For instance, when asked of his influences in an interview with AllHipHop.com, Lupe stated the following: "You know I really tried to go back and recreate It Was Written, you know what I'm saying like that? It Was Written and then I would play my album, and it was like, `Do we got record, do we got that record?'"

In a following interview with Nobody Smiling:

NobodySmiling.com : Now you've said many times that your album is modeled after `It Was Written,' and a lot of people wouldn't admit that because a lot people would be like He's biting or whatever. So why do you feel so comfortable admitting that?

Lupe Fiasco : Cause it's a classic. Like, people study-you study the masters, you know what I'm saying? Everybody that's rapping studied someone to learn how to rap. They had a rapper who was they favorite rapper that they wanted to be like and wanted to rap like, know what I'm saying? For me, I just look at it like I studied a masterpiece. I modeled my album after a masterpiece; and not song for song; not line for line; not beat for beat. It was more-for me it was like mood for mood. The way he set the mood on that album to me was just like incredible. And at the time in my life-like, I fell in love with 'It Was Written' when I was seventeen/eighteen—a very impressionable time—so I was like I love that album. That's my favorite Hip Hop album, so it's like why not base your album on 'It Was Written?'

Along with It Was Written, Lupe claims to have enjoyed music by 2Pac, Too $hort and Jay-Z in "Hurt Me Soul."

Discography

Main article: Lupe Fiasco discography
  • 2006: Food & Liquor
  • 2007: The Cool
  • 2007: Untitled (with Kanye West and Pharrell as CRS (Child Rebel Soldier)