While making an appearance on Power 105's The Breakfast Club, Lupe Fiasco was asked what he thought about the current state of Hip Hop. Lupe revealed that he thought 97% of Hip Hop is terrible. The dude seems to intelligent, though he often comes off like a pseudo-intellectual (which may be a sign of genius), so I would hope he has a criteria for coming up with that number. Even if he does have an INTELLIGENT criteria to reach that opinion, come on son, 97???
Before you Hip Hop heads go all revolutionary-in-the-mouth, I have to point out that if radio and mainstream media is your gauge for judging Hip Hop's standards you are missing the forest for the trees. I'll be the first to agree with any Hip Hop purist who says mainstream radio does zilch, zero, nada to promote the artist value of Hip Hop culture. What do you expect??? Radio is subject to corporate interest and their goal is to generate profit above all. Business is business. So by even beginning to think that the state of our culture is gauged by mainstream media you sound silly! The magazines, the television platforms like MTV, BET, and VH1 all owe its existence to corporate interest not cultural enrichment and artistic enlightenment. I am assuming that YOU (the individual reader) don't get your Hip Hop from any of these sources.
Let me be an example of what I mean! My playlist, cd player, ipad, ipod and laptop files read like this: Nas, Curren$y, Slaughterhouse, J.Cole, Kanye West, Big KRIT, Tech N9ne, Pusha T, Brother Ali, 2Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Jadakiss, 9th Wonder, Rick Ross, old school Outkast, old school Jay-Z, old school AZ and 5 artists you haven't heard of yet because they don't have deals but they do have microphones set up in the closet. While the mainstream is clearly represented in my listening choice, most of my list consist of guys who don't chase platinum records or BDS spins. The fact that 5 artists you have never heard of (Saga, MT, Profile, Wally Clarke, Space Mane) are on my list should stick out as the major reason the majority of Hip Hop isn't terrible. These artist represent the willingness of Hip Hop to make personal choices in music without influence from radio and main stream media. BTW, Saga may be the illest MC on that entire list!!! He has no desire to be a world famous rapper but, he drops new music all the time from the comforts of his mic in the closet. You'll never ever ever hear him on 106 & Park!
The point is that THE MAJORITY of Hip Hop is just like me. They have their guilty pleasures like Rick Ross and 2Chainz that they listen to daily. I still keep up with radio because I stay abreast of what's popular as well as what's healthy food for thought. But, what I hear on the radio is only a fraction of the depth of Hip Hop. Lupe is judging Hip Hop based on the criteria of popularity. SHAME ON YOU LUPE! Artist like Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Drake and 2Chainz are the popular kids but they hardly make up 97% of the culture. Fact is 97% of the culture doesn't have gold and platinum plaques. 97% of the culture doesn't have a record spinning in the top 20 of any market. 97% of the culture doesn't perform at the Billboard Awards.
Let me give you a list of artist gatlin-gun style: Curren$y, Big KRIT, Tech N9ne, Brother Ali, REKS, Jon Connor, Talib Kweli (still), Nipsey Hussle, La Coka Nostra, Sean Price, Skyzoo, Madchild, Little Brother members (reunion now please), Action Bronson, Max B (too wavy to be locked up), Trae The Truth, Chinx Drugs, Arsenal, Fashawn, Childish Gambino, Killer Mike, Mistah F.A.B, Vado, Schoolboy Q, Pill, Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse, J.Cole, Jean Grae, etc
My point is that our culture is rooted in tradition and artistry. That has not changed! I understand Lupe's frustration. Our foundation does not match our steeple. But, Hip Hop has reached a point where what's popular isn't what defines us. We live in an age where we get to customize our own playlist and listen to whatever we think is hot. Lupe is caught up in the industry. His frustrations with the industry lead him to believe that the industry set precedent and standard. UH UH NO WAY! The street STILL hold reins over the industry. Creative minds who can't be digested whole by the industry often reach pass the money machines of corporation and grab our attention long enough to score hit records. Ironically, Lupe is one such artist. Perhaps the problem with Lupe is that he is tired of staring at the popular kids table and not being able to sit there. Well, let Lupe know he should be in no rush to sit at a symbolic BDS spins table with YMCMB and MMG. Remain apart of the foundation.
Though I am sure Lupe will change his tune once he gets out of his contract and goes indie. I wish rappers could go all Carmelo Anthony on a record and get out of their current contractual arrangements. I digress! Tell Lupe 97% of Hip Hop isn't terrible. Its just that the top 3% make us look like idiots because they get %75 of the wealth. Hmmmmmmmm looks like I found a fundamental principle Lupe and Obama can agree on. Lupe is apart of 97% of Hip Hop. And that's a good thing!
Lupe Fiasco's Food And Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 is due out September 25