“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.