We made phone calls, sent e-mails and prayed to the gods of hip-hop. We begged, pleaded and prodded for a sit-down. A conference call. An e-mail? Hell, we'd settle for a text message. But, just like on prom night, we failed to seal the deal. An interview with rap artist Lupe Fiasco wasn't meant to be, and so we were left with questions to ask about the new album Lupe Fiasco's The Cool and nary a Fiasco to direct them to.
Then we had a thought. Lupe is an artist innovative enough to create his own hip-hop mythology. So we took his lead and created our own interview filled with some of the questions we would have asked Fiasco and the responses we imagine he might have given in return.
Eddie Shoebang: On this album, you have characters like The Streets, The Game and The Cool. Who are these people for real?
Lupe Fiasco: OK, so here it is, real quick. The Streets—she's this seductress, the call of the streets, you know? She's hooked up with The Cool, who's on his way to fame, and she gives him the key to the streets. But there's a price for fame. The Game is like the pimp's game, the con man's game, the hustle in the street—and, like The Cool, his right hand is rotting away, which symbolizes his righteousness rotting away.
His righteousness? Are you sure it's not because he uses his hand way too much to mastur—
What? No! This ain't about that! This is a concept, an idea that's on the album. There's a mythology involved here that, after a few listens, will begin to reveal itself.
Wait, you're asking people to listen to an album, like the whole thing, more than once? Can't we just get the plot by downloading the single “Superstar”?
Look, this album is about telling stories. It's not about throwing up a single or putting out a ring tone. I'm about telling stories. Like, if this interview were a song, it'd be a story about a journalistic fool who—
Settle down. I get better with time. And beer. What story are you telling on The Cool?
The story on the album is about those three characters—The Streets, The Game, The Cool—and how they all represent the negative influences surrounding Lupe Fiasco. You got the seduction of the streets, the evil outcomes of the game and the constant need or quest to be the cool.
Is that what your hot sister (Iesha Jaco) is talking about in the album's spoken-word intro?
First, get my sister's name out your mouth. And yes, she talks about that, about school violence, drug dealing and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, starting each statement with “They thought it was cool…” Basically, we gotta stop glamorizing certain things in society and, in a sense, wake up.
There's a track on the album called “Paris, Tokyo.” I did some research and discovered that such a place doesn't exist. Care to explain?
It doesn't exist. That song is about life on the road and me taking a piece of home everywhere I go. It's, you know, life on the road and—I can't believe you're making me explain that. I think I hate you.
Don't hate, participate. Although it sounds like you're planning to stop participating in hip-hop, the way you've been talking about your next (and supposedly last) album LupEND. You leaving for real?
I'm not sure if the next album will continue this story or not, but, yeah, I'm pretty sure the next one will be the last.
Part of it is the industry, part of it is me saying what I need to say in three albums.
But I thought hip-hop saved your life? You know, that song you did on the album [“Hip-Hop Saved My Life”] featuring indie singer Nikki Jean? Oh, and did you see that YouTube video with Nikki hearing herself on the album for the first time?
Calm down. Yeah, I saw that video. Made me smile because I know what that's like and I miss that feeling of the first time. As for hip-hop saving me, it has.
But you're talking about leaving. Both hip-hop and—you're getting up from your seat as I'm saying these words to you right now.
I'll still be doing something, it just might not be in hip-hop. I'm thinking about spinning the mythology of my albums into comic books and radio segments. Maybe I'll write a novel under my real name, Wasalu Jaco, who knows?
Do you wanna go get a taco or something?
Hell no. And let go of my leg. Lupe Fiasco performs on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at Belly Up Tavern, 143 S Cedros Ave., in Solana Beach. 858-481-8140. www.lupefiasco.com.