Keeping in the spirit of the upcoming North Coast Music Festival, today’s song features one of the more underrated hip hop artists around. Lupe Fiasco, or his real name, Wasalu Muhammad Jaco has been in the game mainstream for several years now putting his own spin on the genre wearing some of his influences on his sleeve like Nas and Mobb Deep. Being from Chicago a lot of people are quick to say he emulates Kanye West, but Lupe has released two successful full lengths with much anticipation on a third upcoming album. His first album received studio help from Jay-Z and put Lupe in the spotlight. His second album featured maybe his most popular song, Superstar featuring Matthew Santos.
The song I decided to share with you guys is titled, “The Coolest.” While on the album the song sounds like a structured song, it originated as a freestyle piece of work and was initially performed as such. However, at some point in the studio it was determined to make it into an actual song and that is the version most people know about. The lyrics in this song are a little more socially conscious and remind me a little of another artist, Talib Kwele. I usually am a little cautious with this style of hip hop, but Lupe pulls it off really well here. I enjoy the freestyle version more because of the rawness and stripped down nature of the performance. I also like the atmosphere in the freestyle video. To set the stage it is Lupe performing at Eastern Michigan University’s student center in 2007; a couple months before his album, “The Cool” would be released. I included the studio version so people that are interested can hear both and decide for themselves which is better.
Just a reminder, anyone in the area the North Coast Music Festival runs from September 3rd through the 5th at Union Park in Chicago, IL. For more info on the festival, head over to www.northcoastfestival.com.