It’s no secret that for several years Lupe Fiasco has had his share of problems with his label, Atlantic Records. But for the first time the ‘LASERS’ rapper is opening up about the mental anguish the dispute caused him.
When Atlantic chairman Craig Kallman told Lupe that his performance on ‘Nothin’ On You’ track was “wack,” things got dark real quick.
“That was the tipping point. It was less about the bruised ego but more the audacity of it. It was mentally destructive.
“I say it with a certain laissez-faire now because I’m past it, but back then, hearin’ that sh*t, it f*cked me up. I was super-depressed, lightly suicidal, at moments medium suicidal – and if not suicidal, willing to just walk away from it all completely.”
As most of us know, Lupe’s verses on the song (heard below) were replaced by new material from his friend B.o.B featuring singer Bruno Mars, making the song one of 2010 biggest hit singles.
The ‘LASERS’ project has been in the works for three years now with Atlantic stalling to release it. When Lupe’s fans organized protests outside the label’s Chicago and New York offices last October, Atlantic agreed to set a release date for Lupe’s work but have also been very vocal about how they want it done.
“I am a hostage. I gave them what they wanted. If I didn’t, at the end of the day the album wasn’t coming out.”
Lupe says that when he received the track for ‘The Show Goes On,’ that someone from Atlantic gave him a warning:
“I was specifically told” — Fiasco chuckled — “‘Don’t rap too deep on this record.'” He laughed some more. “That was a specific order from the top. ‘You’re rapping too fast or too slow, or it’s too complex.’ … There are consequences and combat that comes from that process and the eventual compromise. With me, though, I’m not writing about someone else. I’m writing about me. This is my life. It’s very personal for me. So for somebody to kind of put their fingers in that and play with that, it becomes more damaging.”
It’s definitely tough to hear the behind the scenes drama that has kept Lupe from putting out the music his fans deserve. I for one am an long-time fan and I remember being so hyped about this guys potential when he first came out. Back in 2006 when Jay-Z helped arrange Lupe’s move to Atlantic Record for “Food & Liquor,” I remember that the senior rapper called the new kid ‘a genius rapper.’ I believe he still is, he just needs to get out of what has become an emotionally destructive contract.
Last Saturday night, I was sitting mere inches away as Lupe was performing at the Blue Note, when people starting whispering, turning their heads and eventually cheering. Mr. West was in the building as well as Mos Def and together they joined Lupe on stage for what was one of the best sets I have heard in years.
That is the kind of rapper Lupe can be- not just a good one but a legend. It’s why we understand when he says:
When I think about everything that I went through on this record, I hate this album.
To be honest, after listening to ‘LASERS’ in its entirely, it is definitely not his best. Knowing the strings behind it, kind of make us hate it too.