Monday, November 19, 2007

I Scare Myself Sometimes Too

All in his head
Forget scary movies--thoughtful Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco scares himself
By Matt Pais
October 30, 2007

The debate over rap music has grown hotter than ever, as politicians and musicians bicker about whether gritty, possibly offensive content is justified when it reflects on real-life experiences. Lupe Fiasco knows why.

“There always has to be an enemy, ya understand? And terrorism is kind of wearing off,” says the 25-year-old rapper and West Side native. “Can’t keep blaming the terrorists, so it’s like, ‘Oh, hip-hop? Yeah, those guys are responsible for everything.’ ”Despite his tongue-in-cheek explanation, Fiasco isn’t one of the artists under fire—and for good reason. On his debut, “Food and Liquor,” and the follow-up “The Cool” (out Dec. 18), the up-and-coming star favors fresh beats and deft storytelling over lazy, 50 Cent-style club songs. “The Cool” is based on a hustler of the same name who is killed and digs himself out of the grave. In advance of Fiasco’s Halloween show, we tapped into his dark side, his fears and his Chicago roots.

Your show is on Halloween. What if everyone in the audience is dressed as you?
Ha, ha, that would be quite hilarious. How you dressin’ like Lupe? I guess just with glasses and stuff. That would be pretty fresh.

You say the new album is darker. Why?
I just think the story itself and what The Cool is … he’s a zombie. Then the other characters that come into play, they’re almost like monsters. Very macabre. I was always intrigued that people love to be scared.

What scares you?
I think myself. Like if I let my mind wander off into things, I can actually scare myself. I remember I used to be a little kid and how I used to be like, “Did I just see something? I did just see something! Uhh!” And then I would just work myself up into a frenzy, like “Uhh, there’s something over there!”

Does that still happen?
Nah, it’s pretty much under control, but when you let your mind wander sometimes and you just start to really believe it, like, “Oh, maybe there is something over there. There is! There’s something in the closet! You gotta get out of the closet! You gotta go!” I find myself checking the closet every now and again.

How did growing up in Chicago shape you as a rapper?
Kinda made me more versatile. Chicago’s kinda like the crossroads as far as hip-hop. We don’t really have a real identity. Hip-hop is kind of imported. We get a lot of imports from all the different regions ... so you get the real versatile situation going on.

Why are we lacking an identity?
I don’t think we’re lacking an identity. I just think our identity is made up of a bunch of other identities. And it’s kind of still filling itself out. Is it going to be the club scene? Is it going to be like house music? Is it going to be Lupe Fiasco? Is it Common? Is it Twista? I think it’s still kinda undefined ... but that’s good. It leaves us open to do whatever we want.

So will you dress for the Halloween show?
As Lupe Fiasco.

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