The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco (live in Tripod, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: On the tails of his hotly received second album 'The Cool', Chicago's Lupe Fiasco hits Dublin to energetically deliver a repertoire of songs that have seen Jay Z describe him as a "breath of fresh air".

The Cluas Verdict? 6.5 out of 10

Full Review:
“I'll tell you what you should do, Dumb it down” - that's a line belted out by Lupe Fiasco from his song 'Dumb it Down' during his visit to Dublin's Tripod on Saturday night. And he's a man of his word, with a no-fuss stage set up of him, a microphone and a DJ providing backing tracks. Given the extravagant stage shows endorsed by his contemporaries Kanye West and Pharrell Williams – with whom Fiasco founded supergroup Rebel Child Soldier – the stripped down stage presence was disappointing at first sight. Having previously witnessed Kanye West's mixture of groundbreaking content with an extravagant stage show, I had hoped Lupe would attempt something to make his music come across in a more 'live' way, rather than have a DJ rehash his backing tracks. But it worked. Fiasco's interaction with the DJ and acapello rapping gave the crowd the atmosphere of a club gig, whilst giving an insight into the raw environment in which all rappers must learn their trade.

Lupe has come a long way from his first visit to Ireland as part of Kanye West's world tour in 2005 – his hit single 'Superstar' has catapulted him to the top of the charts of late and it naturally got the best reception from the Dublin crowd. On a night of little speaking to the Dublin crowd, Fiasco did tell the crowd of his delight at hearing the song on the radio so often and (worringly) at it being used as a ringtone. But 'Superstar' isn't his first brush with regular airplay – his appearance on Kanye West's 'Touch the Sky' brought him to the attention of millions and he performed his rap from that hit in an intro medley that included an improv rap to the tune of Jay Z's 'Show Me What Ya Got'. The set ended with his mixtape fave ‘Happy Industries’ (a mash-up with Gorillaz' 'Feel Good Inc.'), but it was Lupe's original material that was the lasting point from this concert.
As well as 'Superstar', Fiasco's well-known tracks 'Daydream' and 'Kick, Push' (who else could pull off rapping about skateboarding on their first single???) were the best received by the large-but-not-mobbed Tripod audience. But it is the lesser known album tracks in which he really let loose and displayed his awesome rap delivery. Flavouring the set with intense acappello raps, Fiasco's voice flows with such speed that it is impossible to decipher what he is saying but he does it with such rhythm and coolness that it is enjoyable nonetheless!
As someone not well versed with Fiasco's two album discography, it was hard to get into the tracks I was hearing for the first time – apart from 'Dumb it Down' and ‘The Instrumental’. Lupe's hour-and-a-bit long performance left me with the sense that if I’d been more familiar with Lupe's albums beforehand, I'd have been as impressed with the content of the show as I was with Fiasco's energetic delivery. However the lasting impression of the Tripod show was that Lupe Fiasco is a fresh, new lyricalist who’s here to stay. Watch out Jay-Z and Kanye, the next generation of rap has arrived.

Ronan Lawlor

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Nuggets from our archive

2008 - A comprehensive guide to recording an album, written by Andy Knightly (the guide is spread over 4 parts).