Lupe Fiasco reminds me of one of those athletes that suffers a disastrous injury early in his career that hinders him from ever being the player we imagined he would be.
Lupe is Penny Hardaway, and Atlantic records is his aching, never fully rehabilitated knees that will always hold him back. He was really supposed to be a legend, but sometimes your body just doesn’t cooperate. There remains greatness within, and every once in a while he may drop 30 in a random game, but soon after he reverts back to the sad shell of his former self.
Just like with Penny, it’s not entirely Lupe’s fault, and recently he went on The Tor Guide on SiriusXM’s Hip Hop Nation on SiriusXM Radio and pointed the blame at exactly who we have been pointing it at for a long while now, Atlantic Records. When the host Torae asked how he’s being treated by Atlantic Lupe responded bluntly:
“Bad, to keep it a thousand. I can’t wait to get off. Even with that said, I’m coming with the biggest records of my career over the next two albums just to set myself up for that post-Atlantic Records career. I’ve had a very interesting run for various reasons. I don’t even think about it anymore. I just go ahead. I rock with my homies at the label who are my homies, but that executive level don’t fuck with your boy too heavy.”
Now, David has already told us how Atlantic Records can ruin music by a great artist, more than once. Lupe’s fight for the album he wanted Lasers to be is well documented, but so too is the Lasers that Atlantic gave us.
Feels like just yesterday I was folding clothes during my overnight shift at Abercrombie & Fitch (yup, Abercrombie & Fitch, wanna fight about it?) with headphones jammed in my ear playing Mood Muzik 3 and The Cool endlessly. Turns out it’s been seven long ass years since then and s*it just ain’t the same. Budden made a Twitter and lost me almost immediately, and Lupe Fiasco, well that’s another story.
In the interview Lu goes on to explain how that album was really the beginning of the end:
“I don’t have a 360 deal. Since they can’t eat off my merchandise or my publishing or my touring they treat me like a third-class citizen up there. I paid the price for that.”
“I got my deal in like 2005, so that was when they were still trying to make that thing happen. By the time I got to my second album, The Cool, they really had it in place. I didn’t want to have to do it. They tried to negotiate it with me, it’s just, the money wasn’t right. It just wasn’t right. And we were like, ‘Nah.’ Then they were like, ‘Well, if you don’t sign this 360 deal we can’t guarantee we’re gonna promote your records.’ I was like above a Wiz Khalifa or B.O.B., like, ‘You gon’ be down in the basement.’ It’s like, ‘Alright.’ We just roll with it. Then we come with the hits, we come with our Grammy nominations. We still keep it going in the midst of that.”
Lu has already told us recently that his fourth album Tetsuo & Youth will be “ratchet” which I took as code to mean “it won’t be the Lupe you’ve been waiting for.” Eerily similar to how his label mate Wiz Khalifa warned us beforehand that his latest release Blacc Hollywood also wouldn’t be up to par, and lo and behold, it wasn’t.
Hopefully one day we get that “is he back” 2010 Amare Stoudemire season from Lupe at some point. But then again, that didn’t end so well either.