XXL recently caught up with Lupe Fiasco to discuss his recent smash album Lasers and how he handles the music business. The Chi Town emcee talked about why he gave his fellow All City Chess Club-er and frequent collaborator B.o.B the records “Nothin’ On You” and “Airplanes” despite having recorded over them first. He explained that he did not feel his verses matched the type of songs his label Atlantic sought to push, saying that he has already branded himself as a conscious emcee akin to dead prez.
“B.o.B made those records,” he said. “He took those records where they needed to go. To say, if it was my records would they be different. For what? There is no way to know. When it first happened, it was me and Bob did the second verse. It was supposed to be me and Bob. Bob’s verse was what they wanted, it was like, ‘Why don’t you do that?’ I’m like, ‘Why don’t you give it to Bob.’ I remember Lyor [Cohen] was like, ‘Why did you let that record go?’ I’m like, ‘It’s the same money. It’s the same money I’m not going to get. It’s the same money you’re going to get. And you broke an artist, as what you should be doing. The way you did?’ Eh, I can’t really rock with those records because of the way they did the business.”
He added, “I’m already branded in a certain way. You got the people who fuck with Lupe and people who don’t fuck with Lupe. You have a whole industry that don’t fuck with Lupe. Some are malicious but they haven’t been acquainted with me and they’ve seem me do other things so they put me over here. It’s like, I’m not Nelly, I’m dead prez. The people who rock with Nelly aren’t as quick to rock with dead prez. But if it’s someone new, they are open to the forces of the market.”
Lupe also discussed the moral dangers of the music industry. He expressed his digust and hatred for urban music labels, saying that executives force artists to compromise their musical integrity in favor of trends and commercial viability.
“People come out of the music business fucked up because you have to become so numb to things and you have to do things completely against your morals,” he explained. “You are putting out the most negative shit in the world. I am specifically speaking about urban music departments. You have families and little kids and you are putting out records about people getting killed, people selling massive amounts of dope and all this negative crazy shit and you think that’s cool?…To them, it just becomes a job…the things that you see specifically in the music business, it’s so visceral and so fucked up the things that people do and the things that people go through and the integrity and the work is completely stripped away so you don’t know who wrote what…When I look at how the product we create is the soundtrack to people’s lives, this shit is everywhere. I hate the music business with all my heart. I hate this shit.”
Carrera Lu also discussed his views on mixtapes and their meaning for artists and fans alike. He said he approaches mixtapes like 2009’s Enemy of the State as tests of his lyrical craft that he is rarely able to exercise on his studio albums.
“[Mixtapes] have a purpose,” he noted. “They are like demonstrations. It’s like showing off. It’s not really about telling a story or pushing an agenda even though I will sprinkle that stuff in here and there. It’s about showing the skill level off, like metaphors, double entendres, all of that good fun stuff. I know fans enjoy that. I don’t necessarily think that if I did a whole album of that I would sell records. It’s definitely something that I think is needed. If people leave you off of lists or people doubt that you can rap or think you have fallen off, it’s nice to have that avenue where you can step in and drop some 39-metaphor song.”