Friday, February 8, 2008
Lupe meets KNOWXONE
Waddup ya'll! Its been a while since we made a post. We got this special interview with Lupe Fiasco done by none other than our homie KNOWXONE. If you ain't heard, hes got one of the sickest sites around. Covers everything, from fashion to music...peep it http://knowxone.wordpress.com.
Now check the story...
By: Ges Miyashiro aka KNOWXONE
Lupe Fiasco portrays multiple prominent entities, but bears one humbled soul. Born to the streets of the West Side of Chicago as Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, 'Lu, just like his other Chi- town counterparts, plans to continuously carry the city of Chicago on his shoulders, proving he is THE coolest superstar, always viewed in Hi-Definition unleashing his go-go gadget flow and setting the streets on fire. This 26 year old entrepeneur / Hip-Hop savior is keen on smashing aside the squalid, dumbed down rap that has been plaguing the airwaves and idiot boxes in our homes for over almost 9 years now. Fresh from wrapping up his sophomore album "The Cool," Lupe has just set out on his promotional tour for the album, in which one of his first stops is the ever endearing beautiful city of Honolulu, Hawaii. I got a chance to sit down with the 1st & 15th CEO to politic with him about life, the music business, streetwear and the daily grind of a Hip-Hop star. Let me put you on game.
Knowxone: Peace, Peace. So, is this your first time in Hawaii?
K: What places did you get a chance to check out since you’ve been on the island?
L: [We] went to the Pali View [Lookout], Wahiawa and a few places on the East side of the island.
K: Word. So you know Ian from Kicks/HI pretty good, right?
K: How did you guys form that relationship?
L: Well, when he first opened St. Alfred in Chicago, you know, I went in and paid a visit to the store and he was there. I went to say “What up.” We talked for a few minutes and found out we both knew the same people, and we just clicked. The store sort of became my new hangout.
K: Have you always been into the streetwear scene? And how did you get introduced to it?
L: Yeah, actually about like 2003-ish I went to Undefeated in LA. I was just looking for some new shoes, and I was like “Damn. They got different colors in these?”
K: So just from that experience, that was it?
L: Yeah. Fasho.
K: Word. So you also have your own clothing company, Trilly & True. How did that come to fruition?
L: Really, what happened was.... [pauses] Well, we’ve always had 1st & 15th as the record company, for just straight music. We always wanted to venture out into other stuff. But we didn’t want it to be too similar to 1st & 15th, so we created Righteous Kung Fu as kind of it’s own separate company to do other things. So with Righteous Kung Fu we have a clothing line [Trilly & True], we put out music videos, album artwork, commercials – whatever. Everything non-music falls under Righteous Kung Fu.
K: You’re also good friends with the dudes behind Hypebeast & Highsnobiety, right?
L: Yeah. I’ve known Kevin from when Hypebeast first started, I was one of the originals. When it was still real small and simple. So I sent them emails, and as my career blew up, his blew up – Hypebeast was blowing up.
K: Now you actually had a guest blog on there, correct?
L: Yeah, one of the first ones actually. I shut it down though.
K: Why is that?
L: Limited edition.
K: [Laughs] Like a pop up store?
K: You are also heavily into Japanese pop culture. Now does this reflect in your music, art, etc.?
L: Yeah, definitely. The album cover from Food & Liquor was actually taken from this Japanese manga called “The Sleeping Man.” Well, the art was the “Sleeping Man,” but basically it was a guy who was asleep, floating on a train and everything around him was floating up. I even talk about it in some of my songs.
K: Interesting. Alright, now let’s talk about your artists on 1st & 15th. You have your in house producer Soundtrak, and then you have Matthew Santos, Sarah Green and Nikki Jean who all have an amazing vocal range...
L: No, no. Not Nikki Jean. She’s independent, but she’s family.
K: Okay. And you also have Gemini (Gemstones). Are any of them releasing solo albums anytime soon?
L: Yeah, Matthew Santos is working on his solo album, it should be out by summer [of 2008]. Gemstones’ album is actually done, we’re just looking for distribution. And Sarah’s is about 70% done. But really, 2008 will be the year for the other 1st & 15th artists.
K: Alright. Now I know you’ve had some major losses in the past couple of years. From your right hand man Chilly getting locked up for a long stretch and Stack Bundles’ untimely death. Did these losses reflect back on this new album?
L: Yeah definitely. Losing my father and my aunty, and other losses definitely made the album dark. I know I’ll see them again, but it’s like how does that come out of a person, you know? How does that come out in my music. And it came out as “The Cool.” The Cool is like my tears, my tears pouring out and showing how I feel about these losses. The majority of these songs is me expressing my anger, the frustration.
K: How was your relationship with Stack Bundles?
L: Well, Stack Bundles was actually the first artist signed to 1st & 15th besides myself. When I was signed to Epic, which was like in 2001, that deal fell through. So when I was between labels, [Epic & Arista] that’s when I started 1st & 15th. I was supposed to do a group with Columbia.
K: With you and Stack Bundles?
L: Me, Stack Bundles and two other artists from Brooklyn. That kind of fell through, but we kept Stack. He stayed with me in Chicago for about 9 months. We were real tight.
K: Alright. Now let’s get into the music. One of my favorite songs from your catalogue is “Failure,” just because of the complexity. Every time I listen to it, I catch something new in the lyrics. How do you come up with these double-entendres and multiple metaphors?
L: Most of it comes from Jazz music. The real basic influence of it comes from Jazz. It’s real simple on the surface, but the more you listen, the more stuff you hear. So I asked myself “How can I do that with Hip-Hop & Rap? Oh, well you have to do the double or triple metaphors.” With Failure, I learned how to do it continuous where the whole song would be a metaphor, and the second verse would be the punchline. There’s all these different ways to freak it, and it all just comes through writing. Writing a lot.
K: Okay. Now the character on The Cool, Mike Cool Young History. Is that a play on the name “Michael?”
L: Yeah, a little. It’ll come out later.
K: Okay. So the story of Mike Cool starts on “The Coolest” off The Cool, but ends on the track “The Cool” off Food & Liquor. Why is that?
L: Well, when I did “The Cool” [off Food & Liquor] I wanted to do a song about zombies. And just during the process of making the new album, I was like “Yo, I can expand on the story.” So I did, I gave him a back story, gave him a girl. Everything. It was kind of like a prequel.
K: Sort of like Carlito’s Way and Carlito’s Way: Rise To Power.
L: Yeah... Or like Star Wars. [Laughs]
K: [Laughs]. Right. Now “Intruder Alert” is probably one of the deepest songs on the album. What inspired you touch on such sensitive subjects?
L: Well for one. Amy Winehouse, 2nd verse [of Intruder Alert]. I was reading some news headline when she first went into rehab. Well, I wanted to do a song about drug abuse. And then rape and immigration. There were just certain topics I wanted to talk about, period. Which I really didn’t get a chance to do. Like, I have a song called “Weather Man” which I haven’t put out yet.
K: Deep stuff. Now I noticed a heavy Midwest influence on this album, like a Crucial Conflict or Do Or Die vibe to it.
L: Yeah, I study all the different forms [of Hip-Hop]. The first type of rap I was really kind of on was where I come from. Like when I first heard Crucial Conflict’s “Hay” I wanted to be in Crucial Conflict. So on this album, I wanted to pay homage to those guys, the whole original Chicago sound.
K: Who were your favorite artists growing up?
L: Umm, well it kind of changed. Early on it was NWA, 8Ball & MJG or Spice 1. More West coast slash South type of sound. In high school it kind of flipped into like Jay-Z, NaS, Biggie, AZ, Wu, Mobb Deep. It was like, to learn what basic rapping is early, you know, real simple. And then it’s like “Oh snap!’ You can talk about other stuff. metaphors and lyrics. The Chino XLs and Ras Kasses.
K: Alright, now one of the tracks off The Cool, “Paris / Tokyo” a lot of heads would say has a vintage A Tribe Called Quest vibe to it, which is kind of contradicting considering the whole “Fiascogate.” So where did you get that particular sound from?
L: It’s like it’s just in the air. Like I’m not completely unaware of that era, I’m not completely blind to it. But one of the first people I let hear that record was Q-Tip. I thought it would be funny. Like, I wasn’t even digging into that sound, but it shows how you can independently come up with the stuff.
K: Have you ever thought about featuring Kamaal “The Abstract” Q-Tip on a Paris / Tokyo remix?
L: Ummm, I don’t know. Maybe.
K: L-U-Pend. Is this truly your last album?
L: Yes. 85% sure. Well, no more recorded music in that sense. I’ll still perform and do albums where you have to come to the show to hear it. But recorded music, it’s just wack. Working with the record labels and all that stuff.
K: So is it just the music business in general?
L: Yeah, it just wears you down. And it’s not the fans, or – not anything else but that. You know what I’m saying? Working with that monster that is the music business.