Recently at a show at Santa Clara University...
"Wake up!" commanded Lupe Fiasco as he took the stage in the sold-out Leavey Center Friday night.
Without sounding pretentious, Fiasco questioned the stereotypes and delusions revolving around the hip hop lifestyle.
Fiasco brought the presidential election to the attention of his audience with his abrupt slogan, which resonated throughout the arena and in the ears of many concert-goers well after the show.
The Knux, two brothers from Hollywood-via-New Orleans with a passion for abstract-progressive hip hop, opened the concert.
Following The Knux, the charismatic Fiasco hit the stage outfitted in all black to a crowd chanting, "Lu-pe. Lu-pe."
What seemed to be Fiasco's group of bodyguards turned out to be his back-up band, 1500 or Nothin'. The band and Lupe created a jazzy feel on stage. Their sound featured multiple keyboards, two guitars and a drum set.
Blue lights danced as Fiasco performed the first few tracks from his debut album, "Food & Liquor."
An obvious energy filtered from stage to audience, with little down time between songs.
Heralded as being the next vanguard for the continuously changing hip hop scene, Fiasco's second song of the night was the atypical story of a skateboarding youngster escaping his troubles in "Kick, Push."
The song refrains from spreading the stereotypical portrayal of the hip hop lifestyle that is often heard on the radio. Instead, Fiasco shed a different light on drugs, money and "hoes."
Like other social activists who have been progressive within the hip hop world -- including Nas, Tupac Shakur and Jay-Z -- Fiasco's lyrics encourage listeners to be content with themselves without having to seek happiness through less fulfilling means.
Fiasco embraces his Muslim background and condemns drugs, drinking and living the flashy lifestyle of many other artists.
The atmosphere livened up even more with a few tracks from Fiasco's newest album, "The Cool." Lupe's energetic performances further set him apart from many other hip hop artists.
As the concert occurred only hours after the first presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama, Fiasco had no trouble conveniently making a few comments about this year's election.
"A vote for Barack is a vote for the future, a vote for McCain is a vote for the past," said Fiasco. He added, "Ladies and gentlemen, the most important vote is the vote for yourselves." At this point, Lupe's sunglasses came off and the performance became a bit more personal.
Near the end of the show, Fiasco performed what is arguably his most famous single, "Superstar." He then entered into a lengthy dialogue with the crowd, imploring them up from the apathetic daydream that seems to be characteristic of much of our generation: "If we don't wake up now, ladies and gentlemen, there might not be a tomorrow to wake up to. Wake up!"
It will be interesting to see how successful Fiasco is at redefining "cool" and remaining true to his abstinence from the frivolous lifestyles of other artists as he makes his mark in the hip hop world.
Though his lyrical messages may not have rung out as loudly as his political dialogue between songs, without a doubt, the performance was timely and well-received by students."
spotted at GWHH