February 16, 2018

Lupe Fiasco "Show & Prove" + "Food & Liquor" (2006)

"If not weird, then Lupe Fiasco is definitely atypical. This 23-year-old Muslim rap phenomenon from Chicago is into skateboarding, custom kicks, Japanese animation and gourmet food as much as he's into hip-hop. Oh yeah, Kanye West and Jay-Z are his homeboys, too. You see, back when they thought backpacks would hurt the Roc - before 'Ye got the shit to pop - Lupe was recruited by Roc-A-Fella. After a 2001 impromptu audition for Jay-Z at a Chicago hotel, Lupe (born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco) was invited, not only to join hip-hop's Prudential, but inside the god MC's sacred space. "He's givin' me clothes out of his closet. Givin' me Gucci jeans, and I'm thinkin', 'I'm at Jay-Z's house. I'm at Jay-Z's house!'" Lupe remembers. Ultimately, Lupe chose not to sign, but to build his own company, 1st and 15th, instead. When business partner Charles "Chill" Patton was forced to do a 14-month bid in the middle of creating Lupe's debut, Food & Liquor, Jigga stepped in. Says Fiasco: "We went to go see Jay and asked, 'Yo, could you help us?'" Instead of simply making a few phone calls, Jay met with Arista head LA Reid and offered to executive produce the upstart's album. Though Food & Liquor has a new home on 1st and 15th/Atlantic Records, Mr. Carter is still its executive producer. And Lupe's buzz has become a roar after scoring a 10 on "Touch The Sky" on West's Late Registration. "[Kanye and I] always had a relationship," explains Fiasco. "We was actually tryin' to get 'Ye signed before he was with Roc-A-Fella. When I did my showcase for Arista, 'Ye was sittin' on the couch in LA Reid's office. Right after our showcase, I was like 'What y'all wanna do with Kanye?'" One good turn deserves another. Now Lupe is poised to earn the underground respect and mainstream acceptance of fellow Chica-go-getters like Common and Twista. "I took the Kanye look as this is the biggest mixtape look ever," he says. "That's the look that got the world's attention." And ain't nothing weird about that." - Show and Prove, 2006. Happy Born Day, Lupe!