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1520 Sedgwick Avenue: February 7th, 2008 Thursday, February 7, 2008

Posted by Andy Hutchins in 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Rockabye.
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Lupe Fiasco (n.): one who bodies (read: smokes, kills) a Kanye track.

“The venom and the serum.” Damn.

Wasalu Muhammad Jaco is Chicago’s latest version of the truth, all dense metaphor and poetic wordplay, and, as here, he’s often the proverbial fire hose for listeners who drink with eardrums. (That was awkward.)

But break it down: “I figured I would never go to Angola/So it never did affect me that maybe indirectly/That my neck leash was funding a rebellion/Or a military coup/Started by militias that don’t believe in following none of Geneva’s rules/I was brushing off the haters/Trying to be cool/Didn’t have a clue that the rapper was helping the rapers/Raiders of the villages/Pillagers of the schools.” That’s an extraordinary mixture of brilliant interior rhyme, great end rhyme of “coup,” “rules,” and “cool,” and introspection.

Add that to the fact that Lupe took this epic, crescendoing beat from Kanye’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” for a mixtape when it was a single, turned the supposedly political Kanye’s materialistic song into a deft treatise on hip-hop ice, and forced his sometime mentor’s hand.

The results, an above-average political verse on a remix on his album that is remembered more for featuring Jay-Z’s best verse from retirement and inspiring the line “On the ‘Diamonds’ remix, I swore I’d smash/Then my big brother came through and kicked my ass” from West’s song “Big Brother,” and the black-and-white video set somewhere in Africa that had nothing to do with the original song and came off as pandering, if entertaining, are less in sum than this one little mixtape track.

There have been political MCs before, and great wordsmiths, too. But Lupe Fiasco’s about the best of both that we have right now, and he’s one to watch.

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