Lupe and My Conflicting Capitalist Fetishism


“One of the biggest challenges a musician faces in the age of digital downloading is expanding the experience for their audience. The world has changed, but people haven’t. You have to figure out a new language to communicate with people, and I think Lupe really understands that.”

~Joe Hahn of Linkin Park

Lupe Fiasco’s new album, The Cool, is as dope as they say. Solid production, witty lyricism and clever, intelligent social commentary that doesn’t beat you over the head with empty, pretentious rhetoric. Definitely peep it if you haven’t yet.

I came across an interesting article recently about Lupe’s status as a “trendsetter” and “tastemaker” in terms of his style and the fashion/design artists that he has aligned himself with. Along with Jay-Z, Pharrell, Kanye and others, he is part of a slew of folks obsessed with Japan’s high end streetwear design innovations (ie, Nigo’s BAPE, Hiroshi Fujiwara, etc.).

The above quote by Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn, a clothing boutique owner himself who is wild about Japan, was interesting to me in that musicians today really are having to figure out other ways of making money and appealing to the masses besides solely putting out music. I have to admit that I download way more music these days than I buy. It also makes me think of my own conflicting ideas about the state of hip hop, capitalism and commodity fetishism. I hate how capitalism requires poverty and is always susceptible to creating widespread suffering and alienation. I also hate how much of hip hop is obsessed with appearance and materialism. On the other hand…I am in awe of folks like Lupe’s entrepreneurial drive and the creative shit they are putting out there. Darren Romanelli (famed designer and Lupe collaborator) is working with Nathan Cabrera, a graphic designer and toy sculptor who introduced him and Fiasco, to develop collectible toys based on “The Cool’s” characters — a hustler-zombie among them — featuring USB ports loaded with multimedia content. Fuckin sick! But does that shit have to cost like a thousand bucks?

That Kanye line, “I’m like a fly Malcolm X/buy any jeans necessary,” really is kind of reflective of a certain segment of this generation–informed by the politics of past leaders and revolutionaries…but also really into hot jeans. Damn, now I really want one of those hustler-zombie toys and a spiderman hoodie. And I guess I should read Malcolm X’s autobiography again too.

Lupe, Kanye and Pharrell have also formed a super group called CRS (Child Rebel Soldier) and have released this unofficial video for the song “Us Placers,” itself a remix of a Radiohead song. Peep the video below.


4 responses to “Lupe and My Conflicting Capitalist Fetishism

  1. That video is freekin fabulous. I super feel u on admiring lupeezy/kanye/jay for beating the man at his own game. i also feel u on being a “socialist-at-heart” and realizing that for every jay-z there are like a billion young black men in prison, working a sh*tty minimum wage job or in a graveyard.

    its a crazy world and i think the reason hiphop calls out to people all over the world is that these cats are like real-life superheroes. In a world where they were targeted for destruction, hip-hop gave these cats a medium to make an exorbanant amount of wealth to not only change their destinies, but the fates of a plethora of their friends and family members. hip-hop in this sense is hope. it’s change. it’s making lemonade from lemons.

    on the other hand, paolo freire has always talked about the pedagogy of the oppressed basically being a feeling that “the only way to avoid aoppression is to become the oppressor yourself,” and under the system we currrently live in, Jay-Z has become an oppressor in certain ways. Last i checked, Rocawear wasn’t a ‘green company,’ nor is it made w fair labor in the USA. BUT, I can’t really imagine feeling bad about making 85 million dollars in one year if I had been born to a single mother on welfare and had to sell crack to get by.

    2 sides to every coin i guess. amerika scares/amazes me.


    p.s. The warriors beat the spurs (with Tim Duncan!) last night in overtime. best Dubs game of the season so far. BD had 34 points and 14 assists and Jack had 28 points. Buike went 7-7 and had 16 points and 7 boards off the bench. Playoffs like whuh. Cheddarbox goes hard like the Dubs bench play.

  2. Damn that song and video are hella tight. It’s going to be a little harder for pharrel to hold his own rapping with them, but he is a musical genius so i could just be blowin smoke out my anus (nice visual, eh?). That capitalism and the state of rap is some crazy make my insides hurt type of shit. I do think that because of this globalized economy we are understanding our connectedness to others in the world in an ever-expanding new way which is already creating some dope ass coalition, film, creation, etc, and that’s already coming out in hip hop and other types of music, like M.I.A. and the concept she is helping to spread through the “World Town” concept.

  3. Repetitively redundant.

  4. Pingback: Lupe Fiasco ~ “Birds & The Bees” (Prod. By Kanye West) « The Cheddar Box

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