Tuesday, February 26, 2008

29 Days of Lupe Fiasco: Gangster

Most of Lupe's rap influences have been gangster rappers: 8ball & MJG, Snoop, Crucial Conflict & UGK. Remember is ATCQ fallout? I find it odd considering what Lupe raps about. Why isn't he a gangster rapper himself? Doesn't the Cool iniative go against a gangster's hustle? Maybe the iniative is not an antidote or a cure but it shines the light in order to expose that gangster lifestyle. They could be considered opposing sides of the spectrum. Lupe has said that Nas' It Was Written was a major influence to start rapping. Nas wasn't a gangster but basked in his mafiaso haze. How could gangster mentalities create such a good, differing rapper? It's as if Nas' mafiosos tales bore a snitch. What did Lupe see in It Was Written?

From re-listening to It Was Written the other day, I was at a loss for what I could take from Sir Nasir Jones. I've always liked the album but I didn't think it was something revolutionary. I'll assume three things Lupe took from It Was Written that he used to build his game up.

Every song on It Was Written is detailed down to the scratch on passenger door on the Lex coup. It's all NY state of mind, mafioso raps. It's the middle road of young hustling without sweating. Nas lets us know the proper ways of doing this and that, and every deal is measured out to the ounce. Very few things are left out: we get the whole story. While Lupe is on a different script, the details are all there. I can't remember somebody that had all his bases covered, content/lyrical wise. Everything he says builds on the previous information. His cool is thoroughly investigated. The scene he paints is so movie like just like Nas.

It's evident seconds in that Nas has a heart behind the fog that his is mafioso tales. Yeah, Nas is there to wax poetic on crime life but there are political undertones. Some are subtle while others are obviously pronounced. It's rising up, not showiness, that's his ultimate goal. Nas knew that he could fly with his everyman's smooth hustle offerings while still tossing some of his own convictions into the pot to spice it up. It makes Nas' flavor that much more rich. And I do remember that about Nas' work, that beneath the usual shinin', he was standing by something meaningful and trying to inject truths. Of course Lupe's cool is mostly about truths and convictions. But Lupe sprinkles personal feelings throughout his cool diatribe. The Cool is exposing g life by describing it in a new, fallible light. He doesn't rag on the lifestyle just to rag on it rather he rags on it to teach and demonstrate why g life is un-cool. He can be the devil's advocate and still come across as heartful.

"I Gave You Power" struck me upon re-listening. It's Nas flexing his creative muscles. It was one of the better tracks besides the singles. Guns don't give people power, people give guns power. Shooting the verse from the the POV of a gun was ill, and true. Here Nas is patronizing his mafiaso clientele and his own afflictions. Creativity may be the best quality Lupe expresses. Hell, the Cool is all creative. Think "Daydreamin", "Instrumental", "Gotta Eat", "Intruder Alert" and "Dumb It Down". He can appease himself with his cool iniative as well as give our minds much needed work.


At 8:30 PM, Anonymous 911 said...

Now had you said NaS was the goat I wouldn't object AT ALL...lol


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