Born into the inner-city streets of Chicago in 1982, Wasalu Muhammad Jaco better known today by his stage name Lupe Fiasco has continued to showcase a new higher level of excellence in hip hop. Originally not a fan of the genre he would eventually be renowned for because of its culture of misogyny, young Lupe preferred to listen to jazz. Despite the dangers that were ever present in his youth, he grew up well educated thanks to the amount of literature provided by his parents. His mother described him as somewhat of a loner when he was younger but its seems that this time spent with his head deep in books was the beginning of his development.
As he grew up he was constantly surrounded by a great juxtaposition, his Father (who was among other things a member of the Black Panther movement) at one point lived next to a crack house. Because of this scary proximity to crime and the wrongdoers who committed these acts, Lupe’s Father taught him how to handle a gun for his own protection. Whereas when safely indoors he would be trying his best to learn an instrument and studying everything from encyclopedias to the National Geographic. As with most artists, indeed with most people, the events that transpire in their youth cast deep shadows into their adult life and affect personality – or with artists the style of content that they produce. Lupe is no different, his level of comprehension that covered both the poverty stricken dog-eat-dog streets of the ghetto, mixed with a broader sense of humanity and the goings on around the globe, make for a solid foundation for the human storyteller and philanthropist he grew up to become.
In 2006 his first single ‘Kick, Push’ was published by 1st and 15th Studios. It quickly became a big hit with remixes by superstar artists like Pharrell Williams and Drake happy to support this emerging talent. This first taste of what Lupe had to offer was a fine example of the skills he continues to execute in his records today. ‘Kick, Push’ is a song about skateboarding, this alone sets it apart from the other hip-hop occupying airwaves at the time that was still perpetuating the gangsta rap ideals of the 80’s or the boastful consumerism that the 90’s brought about. The song vividly illustrates the life of a skater who returns to the board time and time again eventually coming proficient in the skill. As the protagonist develops, he becomes involved with a girl who also skateboards and together they form a relationship around their joint love for the rebellious past time. The song is a wonderfully told tale that creates a real sense of environment and emotion so clear that it shocked fans to find that Lupe himself was not a skateboarder. Here his innate ability to tell compelling stories was cemented, clearly separating him from many of his peers, and this was simply his first venture into the genre.