Adelaide Now just published an article about Lupe. Check it after the jump!
Lupe Fiasco's new album Lasers was due for release a year ago but a fight between Fiasco and his record company over a so-called 360 deal caused Lasers to be shelved. Fiasco, born Wasalu Jaco, submitted Lasers to Atlantic Records in December 2009.
"We handed in the body of work, but it didn't have their stamp on it, so to speak, wink, wink," Fiasco says.
"The industry today is about the 360 deal - record labels are acting as the management, merchandising company and touring agent. They are demanding all these things from the artist now. I don't have a 360 deal, so that put me in a different priority list."
A year-long squabble ensued. Fiasco played live shows and had two hit albums, Food And Liquor and The Cool, to his name. But Lasers was stalled indefinitely.
"I was being a bastard too," Fiasco says with a chuckle. "I was being a little rebellious bastard, raging against the machine. That comes with its own set of consequences."
But neither Fiasco nor Atlantic were prepared for the next twist in the tale. Lupe's fans set up a petition and worldwide protests outside record company offices demanding Lasers be released.
The petition got 30,000 signatures and Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallman addressed protesters in New York.
"It was a revolutionary moment - the fan uproar," Fiasco says. "I didn't ask them to do it, I didn't agitate them to do it. It was something they did on their own. They got permits to protest, paid for lawyers and built the website - on their own. The biggest thing myself and the record label underestimated was the fans."
"It toned down my intensity with the situation and it made the label reach a compromise."
Fiasco was also dealt a harsh lesson in how corporations now own hip hop. The record company gave Fiasco hooks and completed songs to be included on Lasers.
"As an artist, you don't want to fill in the blanks," Fiasco says. "You wouldn't ask Picasso to just fill in the blanks. I'm not comparing myself to Picasso, but at the same time, I am."
Fiasco now sees himself as a painter commissioned by the label to do work they expect.
"It's like they say, `We want you to paint a portrait of our family, but we don't want you to paint us with goat heads or one eye'," Fiasco says. "An artist who wants to be abstract and create shocking pieces is put in a place to paint dogs and scenery. The consequence of not doing what you're told is, your album doesn't come out."
Today, Fiasco says he can handle the truth, no matter how bitter.
He laughs. "Now, whenever I see a conspiracy theory about corporate domination and worldwide what-have-you, I know it's true. It has made me do business way better, way smarter, with a better understanding of what the point is."
But Lupe knows a loophole. His side project, a three-piece band called Japanese Cartoon, spells corporate and musical freedom.
"Lupe has a ceiling. There are expectations from the fans, from myself, with that," he says. "With Japanese Cartoon, there is no limit - we can do a punk song, a reggae song, a ska song, a techno song, whatever we want."