Lupe Fiasco premiered the visual for his introspective single “Bitch Bad” today during his RapFix Live session. This video is a must watch.
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1 drops on September 25th.
Earlier this week (May 21), Grammy-winning Chicago MC, Lupe Fiasco released the first single for his upcoming album, Food and Liquor 2. Well, you can listen to the track, “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)”, below. The production is an obvious (and admitted) remake of “T.R.O.Y (They Reminisce Over You) by Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth. Shortly thereafter, Pete Rock took to Twitter to voice his dislike for the track’s interpretation of his work. And that’s putting it mildly. Some excerpts from his twitter stream(twitter.com/peterock):
No disrespect to lupe fiasco and i like him alot but TROY should be left alone. Feel so violated,the beat is next to my heart and was made
Man I’m a lupe fan and everything but TROY was my homie man. I think about him and Hev every f*cking day!!!! Smh
I’m not flattered @ all. Dat sh*t is wack, and the producer should be ashamed of his f*ckin self. Smh
So untalented and unoriginal. Makes me feel like I’m truly the best that ever did it. Yo hev and t-Roy I love and miss da sh*t outta y’all
For a remake SOOOO close to the original, I assume Lupe’s folks and the producer got the appropriate sample/re-use clearances, otherwise it would be litigation-city. Lupe stated in a radio interview today that his people got the approvals needed and “reached out” to Pete Rock. He never said they actually had his blessing, and PR sounds like he has been so disrespected, so who knows if he was notified. Doesn’t sound like it, maybe he doesn’t own the publishing? Not really important.
Now, I am of the school that respects “T.R.O.Y” as a classic among classics, but many commenters in the blogo-twitter-sphere, think this song is completely untouchable, especially given the highly personal nature of the song. I wouldn’t go quite that far. I respect the creativity in flipping a sample and creating something new, BUT you can’t call out talent and originality in a genre that is LARGELY built on sampling. And the song in question samples 2 or 3 other songs(see Tom Scott’s “Today”). And even that song is a jazz cover of a Jefferson Airplane song!
On the other hand, you need the blessing of the god to do something like this. it’s an unwritten hip-hop rule. This is an undeniable classic. A song that helped define and build hip-hop in the 90s. Regardless of industry maneuvers, or who cleared what, this is a complete remake, and should not have been done without a Pete Rock’s personal co-sign.
*UPDATE* (May 23)
Well that was fast. Around the time this post was to be published, it appears Lupe and Pete Rock have cleared things up.
PR posted this message on Twitter today (May 23)
I just got off da phone lupe, we worked out our differences and we bout to get it in. Gonna be epic and we gonna give Troy and hev the…Proper respect they deserve and make history with lupe.
Who knows what this will lead to, but a top-shelf rapper like Lupe over a good Pete Rock beat is always welcome.
charliedigital is guest contributor to MusicandModeling.com. Find his random tweets and re-tweets on hip-hop, black culture, and technology @charliedigital
By now, most Lupe Fiasco fans know of his struggles with Atlantic over the release, and likely, the content of his third album, Lasers. The result of that struggle is an album filled with synth-electro-pop production, a tired (or beaten) Lupe, and what the hell–some auto-tuned hooks too. That is not to say the production is subpar, it’s just that it does not seem to fit the emcee’s subject matter.
It’s clear that this album is pushing for more pop appeal. (Imagine more “Superstar” and less “SLR”). That fact is made more obvious by Lupe’s recent interviews. He expresses genuine discontent with this album’s production process, and that appears to come through in his performance. We do not get the wit and head-spinning precision seen in Food & Liquor and we do not see the deeper Lupe from The Cool. Whether from lack of focus, label pressure, or just making it more palatable for the listener, we get a “dumbed down” version of Lupe for the majority of this album.
The album’s opener, “Letting Go (featuring Sarah Green)” with its sleepy, emo, auto-tuned hook truly sets the tone for the album. Lupe reflects on his current situation and the industry, but the song sounds dated, even though it feels like it’s aiming for a B.o.B. “Airplanes” appeal. Lupe goes for a double-time flow on “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now”, which has a synth-bounce straight from the Far East Movement’s catalog. It’s a pure club track, and Lupe sounds out of place on it.
“Words I Never Said” is one of the better songs on the album, despite the currently omnipresent Skylar Grey’s feathery emo-chorus. The sound is slightly heavier, but the synth is also slightly overbearing. Lupe is closer to his top form here lyrically, but it is difficult to digest the heavy rhetoric and conspiracy theories over such an upbeat radio-targeted track. It just doesn’t fit. Another highlight is the first single, “The Show Goes On”. This head-nodder really hits the target, and Lupe rides the track perfectly. The album needed more of this vibe (like the stellar “I’m Beaming”, included as a bonus track, not included in this review), but that turned out not to be the case. Trey Songz phones in his best R. Kelly impression for the super-generic “Out of My Head”. Lupe’s verses are largely metaphorical in this one, but that will likely be lost on the target audience. This one will probably be a hit on black radio.
Much of the remainder of the album finds Lupe half-heartedly plowing through lackluster production, pop-rock choruses, and a few more R&B pairings. And that seems to be the overall feel of this album, that Lupe is not fully invested in this project. That said, as of this review’s press time, Lasers has performed better at retail than his previous efforts. Hopefully, with his label woes soon-to-be behind him, fans of his previous efforts will look forward to the next release.