Interview: Lupe Fiasco Hates His Own Album

The Chicago MC talks about the setbacks in releasing his upcoming third release.

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Complex Original

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The last time we spoke with Lupe Fiasco, things were not looking good. His oft-delayed third album, Lasers, seemed destined for major label limbo and Lupe was busying himself with side projects like Japanese Cartoon—his post-punk rock band—and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Lupe’s fans fought back and took things into their own hands by protesting the delay of Lasers. And then a ray of hope: Lupe tweeted a picture of himself with Atlantic Records Chief Operating Officer, Julie Greenwald, and the long-standing feud between him and the label seemed resolved. Shortly thereafter Lasers was given a release date, and it looked like everything was going to be alright.

But pictures can be deceiving. Despite having a legitimate hit on his hands with “The Show Goes On,” and having a solid release date of March 8 for his album, things between Lupe and Atlantic Records haven’t really been resolved. We got on the phone with Lupe and he went off about how he was pressured into doing “The Show Goes On,” why he’s still not cool with Atlantic Records, and why he (sometimes) hates his own album.

As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)

On "The Show Goes On"

“There’s nothing really to tell about that record, to be honest. I didn’t have nothing to do with that record. That was the label’s record. That wasn’t like I knew the producer or knew the writer or anything like that. That was one of those records the record company gave me, [they even gave me] stuff they wanted me to rap about. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey I did this and I went to a mountain and found inspiration and it was this.’ [Last April] I was backstage at a show at the House of Blues in L.A. and the president of [Atlantic Records] came to me and said, ‘Hey check this out, I got this song.’ He played ‘Show Goes On’ for me on the iPod. I was used to it because they presented me like ten other songs in the same fashion or via email. So for me, at that point, it was just another record like, ‘Is this a song you want me to do?’ There was nothing special about it for me at that point. It was like, ‘You know we still want off the label, right?’ That was the conversations we were having.

Why He Hates Lasers

“One thing I try to stress about this project is, I love and hate this album. I listen to it and I’ll like some of the songs. But when I think about what it took to actually get the record together and everything that I went through on this record—which is something I can’t separate—I hate this album. A lot of the songs that are on the album, I’m kinda neutral to. Not that I don’t like them, or that I hate them, it’s just I know the process that went behind it. I know the sneaky business deal that went down behind this song, or the artist or singer or songwriter who wrote this hook and didn’t want to give me this song in the first place. So when I have that kind of knowledge behind it, I’m just kind of neutral to it like, ‘Another day, another dollar.’ As opposed something like The Cool, which is more of my own blood, sweat, and tears, and my own control. With this record, I’m little bit more neutral as to the love for the record.
”The [fans] came and put their lives on the line in some instances—because you never know what could happen, it could have been a stampede. I look at that as very inspiring and motivational. That was one of the only reasons the label got on the phone and wanted to have that meeting, they seen the outpouring of support and the critique that was beginning to mobilize via the Internet. CNN, MTV, and Village Voice was picking up the story of the protest and actually interviewing the kids and the kids was speaking their piece. And it wasn’t the most glorifying things that they were saying. I think that, as well as the pressure of the business itself, where it was at a point like, ‘Look, Lupe is not going to come into the building at all.’ It was periods of stalemate where I wasn’t going into Atlantic Records. I had nothing against the average employees—a lot of those people are my friends—but the executive attitude was something I did not like.

On “Words I Never Said”



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