Sunday, February 24, 2008

29 Days of Lupe Fiasco: No Flicker

The beauty of “Superstar” should be known and noted on different levels. It’s a single that has extreme depth as well as long lasting play. Seeing that 106 & Park got it to #1 this past week, it got me thinking: is Lupe starting to catch on with people?

On the first listen you hear the beat and you immediately begin to bop. It’s ever so subtle, just chilling in the background, as Lupe begins his wizardry. The words are not from left field and with a few listens you can easily understand what Lupe is saying. For the average fan, the lyrics are meaningful—if just for that moment. You’d hear he’s talking about himself, then maybe get lost on verse two but by the third verse he brings it back to something a casual fan can attest to: normalcy. Top 40 listeners can appreciate “Superstar’s” value because of Lupe’s sensibility. He’s not being showy, patronizing or gimmicky. Lupe offers a portrayal of his ascension to stardom and its pitfalls. Enter Matthew Santos. Even if the Mohawk was in a few years ago, his voice is paralyzing. “Superstar” still would’ve been a hit without Santos but it would have never attracted so much luster. I find myself repeating Santos just as much as I do Lupe.

Lupe fans—those who dig deeper than just the hook—know that “Superstar” is deeper than a great single. Most casual fans of “Superstar” think Lupe fans like it for the same reason as they do. It’s true but “Superstar” reaches farther into the heart and soul. “Superstar” becomes legendary with his lyrics and the 106 & Park/TRL crowd could never keep up with dude past the fences. Lupe starts off talking about himself. “Want to believe my own hype but it's too untrue/The world brought me to my knees.” Who would ever issue such honesty, such truth about themselves? That shit takes courage. Would you ever claim to be unschooled and too uncool—on the red carpet? The trail of the spotlight is scary. He travels through it just as fast as a bullet. The spotlight can kill you, hmmm, has Britney ever taken that into consideration? And she still louses around, damn. The verse shifts to a scene out of the “Running Man” with, “Like the governor called/And they told him to wait/Un-strap him from the chair/And put him back in his cage.” The spotlight is a game; it doesn’t want to kill you just yet, it wants to see you writhe and wiggle in pain. Oh, and I also conjure the image of Tookie Williams and The Govenator, except that call never came. Anyway, the audience owns your every move. If they made you, surely they can break you. Lupe ends with a verse sharing a fans’ dilemma, "Cuz I been standing in this line/For like five whole days. "Who hasn’t had that experience? For him to bring it home like that was touching. Seriously, do rappers know what they put fans that pay $30 through? All we ever wanted to do is: “take the stage and start performing for me.”

Realizing that the artist is usually at the whim of the fan isn’t a conceivable idea for most famous people. Yeah, they’ll tell us they “perform for their fans” but c’mon, they could give two fucks about the people that pay them their diamonds and condos. Ultimately though, they are highly scrutinized by their fans. One wrong, different move and they could slammed for it. “Superstar” evokes humbleness (er, that's maybe why dude isn't a Superstar). It’s telling of Lupe’s experience with being famous and his views. He levels with himself as he’s in the spotlight, knowing its ill-effects both personally and towards his fans. If he becomes too big-headed he’ll lose himself and the fans will buy into this new persona and he’ll be trapped, doomed. As much as Ye was lauded for his honesty of fame and money on “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, “Superstar” adds onto that personal touch and magnifies it. Shouldn’t “Superstar” be everyone’s look in the mirror before they walk out amongst the red carpet’s flashing lights?


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