Lupe Fiasco Discusses The Burdens Of Conscious Hip Hop

Lupe Fiasco explains some of the pitfalls of being a conscious rapper on a major label.

Chicago stalwart Lupe Fiasco recent caught up with NBC's "Nitecap" while performing in Miami. During the interview, the politically charged emcee discussed the burdens of being a conscious rapper in the modern era and illuminated some of the ideological pitfalls he's faced in his career.

When asked whether it gets exhausting for him to play the part of socially conscious rapper in a culture preoccupied with wealth, Lupe explained that being a politically minded artist isn't a black or white scenario. He said that he believes most Hip Hop artists play dual roles as lucrative hit-makers and conscious-minded musicians, adding that even he has had to go against some of his own beliefs in order to make end's meet.

"I don't know [if it gets tiring being a conscious rapper], it all depends on what your intentions are, what you're trying to get out of it, how much you're willing to put up with, how much you can actually take at the end of the day," he said. "There's all these different factors, so it's not like a simple yes or no kind of thing; there's certain things you have to do for the sake of sending your little sisters to college - that's the greater good, and sometimes greater good means you have to go through a lot of nonsense to get there. But I don't really look at the industry in those terms as black and white, conscious or not. Everybody do their piece and do their part - a lot of the most, that kind of ignorant music that people make sometimes, they can turn around a massive fortune off of that and…in one check, write away the ills of their community."

Check out the first part below, and the second part of the interview over at Rap Radar.

RELATED: Lupe Fiasco Claims He Was Visited By Aliens As A Child

29 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Lu makes a good point. Stuff artists do outside the spotlight also makes a big difference

  • Malone

    Eating doodoo prevents aging. . . . Sincerely Yours -Malone

  • richryne

    i love gianna michaels

  • BPSN

    I stopped respecting Lupe when he said he got abducted by aliens. West Side of chicago fucked up his mind bad

  • Malone

    Fecal matter . Sincerely Yours -Malone

  • Malone

    dog doodoo .,\\\\ . . Sincerely Yours -Malone

  • Anonymous

    YOU'RE TOO BUSY TRYING TO BE AN ACTIVIST ,. YOU THINK Q-TIP N TRIBE ACTED LIKE YOU, DE LA SOUL , COMMON, HELL NAW , THEY MAKE AND MADE DOPE MUSIC , YOU TALENTED BUT YOUR MUSIC IS TRASH LUPE ,. WACK ASS BEATS

  • Eye Control

    Lupe Fiasco is one of my favorite rappers. But I'm sad to say that I am not as much as a fan as I was before his new album. I new he was going mainstream with Lasers, but with his last album's singles, I knew that was it. I forgot the exact names, but I remember his songs had to do with 'Lamborghinis' and 'Bad Bitches'. I didn't even bother to listen to the album when I seen this. His first album and his 'Lupe Fiasco Is Cool' album are classics. Now he's growing out his hair like Chief Keef to get more buzz and selling out. But he will always be one of the realest. He can actually skateboard unlike some posers, plus he goes by his real name like all the real rappers. Also I learn all my politics from Lupe. I haven't given up on him completely though.

  • revin

    Lupes comment shows how badly rap has gone as an art form. Conscious rap used to be synonymous with rap period. The Golden Age of mainstream rap had rappers putting meaning into the lyrics. Pretty much every mainstream rapper was "conscious" back then. What we call mainstream rap now is really strip club/frat party/bar mitzvah/ring tone music. Even Jazz, Blues, Gospel and some R&B have maintained greatness in contemporary forms. Mainstream rap is a train wreck. The point is that "conscious rappers" don't have a lane with the major labels. The labels are all about cross-marketing and upselling different products with rap providing the backing track. I bought Lupes first 2 releases and was cool with his contribution to the culture. He did his part.

    • revin

      @TaZzZ Hey, I was too broad in my use of the word conscious. I should have said substance. Rap in the late 80s and early 90s was more substantive, even with the groups you mentioned. The black experience on which rap was founded is very broad, so you had your BDP and Wu-Tang and UMC and Biggie and Black Moon. Salt N Pepa and Queen Latifah pushed a progressive vision of female empowerment, hate 'em or love 'em. Substance not conscious then. First rap I heard was whichever Ice-T album had "Six in the morning". SUBSTANCE. The first raps I remember from Bone Thugs were "Crossroads" and "1st of the Month" both substantive records. I heard you on the phrase conscious. Something similar happened to R&B/Soul with the phrase "Neo-Soul". Sade was neo-soul before neo-soul. Prince was neo-soul. Rick James was neo-soul. At one point, all soul music was pretty much neo-soul, with relatively little fluff. All that to say that rap and soul had substance. Now that it is so vapid, you need a category to flag rap as substantive, versus fluff. And the music industry did this on purpose. People would still be buying music if the music industry put the best stuff out there, LIKE THEY USED TO DO IT. That is why people value rap music like toilet paper. The same people produce both. Think about it. Wipe once and then discard. Download once and then delete.

    • TaZzZ

      Man I hate how people look back to the 90's with some sort of amnesia like it was all conscious and shit. You had your BDP's and your Public Enemy's but you also had your Wu-Tang, Bone Thugs, Biggies and Puns. Conscious rap has always been outnumbered!! If anything, the game has become more conscious percentage-wise, you just have to dig for it, its not on the radio or MTV. But don't get it twisted, conscious rap has always been the minority, it just received much more credit when it was fresh and new, nowadays these guys carry the cross without the incentive because so many ppl have gone the conscious route... BTW I hate even using the word conscious because it is ridiculous, I only use it because it is language everyone understands. Get where I'm com in from?

  • Anonymous

    Love Lpe and rspet his talent. But you can't call Obama out for not standing for the peopel when you can't even stand up to your record label

    • BP

      real talk? those aren't the same fucking things you have a contract with your label, if they're fucking around with you, there's nothing you can do about it except wait until the contract runs out. and that's what niggas like Game and Lupe have been doing. you cannot "stand up" to your label, I don't think you guys understand how that works.

  • Anonymous

    i like some of his music on the positive tip love, but this dude is awall Period

  • RC

    "Damn, I should've gone independent like Immortal Technique"!!

  • Anonymous

    If you get rich in the process then there really isn't a burden. He chose to do this type of music, and clearly there's an audience who wants to hear it, so...

    • cudder

      the burden lies into what one has to do sometimes to get there. remember how Atlantic had Lupe drop Lasers. the thing with being a conscious rapper is you develop a loyal, sometimes closeted fanbase. then for some emcees shit happens such as getting coerced into dropping a record like Lasers which many disliked. everything happens for a reason tho, Lasers kinda gave Lupe the platform he had to say the shit he wanted to say(Obama, hip-hop, etc). I'd say Lupe got off lucky there, plenty of other emcees wouldn't have known how to deal with all that n just faded back into the indie scene.. that's what Lupe plans to do anyway

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