On this day in Black History we celebrate the birth of one of Hip Hop’s most passionate revolutionaries. Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, better known as Lupe Fiasco, born today [February 16] in 1982. Lupe Fiasco is an American rapper, producer, and entrepreneur based in Chicago, Illinois.
Growing up in the inner city of Chicago, Fiasco developed a love for Hip Hop after first disliking the genre for its misogyny and vulgarity. He began recording music at age 17 in his father’s basement and two years after joined a local rap group called Da Pak, who had a short lived record deal with Epic Records. After the group disbanded, Fiasco met rapper and mogul JAY Z who helped him to sign a record deal with Atlantic Records.
On September 19, 2006, Fiasco released Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor which received three Grammy nominations for Best Rap Album, Best Solo Rap Performance, and Best Rap song for his timeless single “Kick, Push.” This album had a great commercial reception, peaking at #8 on the Billboard 200 chart and #1 on the Billboard Top Rap albums chart.
This album helped Fiasco leap to commercial success and allowed him to release his second, and more politically influenced, album The Cool. During the recording of this album Lupe Fiasco ‘s father died of type II diabetes, his good friend Stack Bundles died, and his business partner and mentor, Charles “Chilly” Patton, was sentenced to 44 years in prison. When asked about this album, Lupe said:
“Oh yeah. A lot of loss. I lost my father, I lost my business partner to prison, and I lost some friends. It was a very dark period. It still is in some aspects, but you know, I’m kind of coming out of it. But especially during the time that the album was being cooked, in my head was a very dark kind of period.”
The album went on to peak at #14 on the Billboard 200 list and #1 on the Billboard Rap chart for nine weeks. The album was also nominated for four GRAMMYs including Best Rap Album.
Fiasco released his third studio album Lasers on March 7, 2010. Although it received the most mixed reviews of all his albums, it was the first to peak at 31 on the Billboard 200 chart. This was his most successful commercial album, being certified double platinum In sales in the United States alone.
Since Lasers, Lupe Fiasco has released two albums titled Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 and Tetsuo & Youth. Both albums were quite successful making appearances on the Billboard 200 charts, Food and Liquor II peaking at #5 and Tetsuo & Youth peaking at #14. Both of these albums can also be considered the two least commercial albums from Lupe Fiasco’s career to date. They are both heavily conscious and focus on issues in this country effected people of color, those effected by poverty and Muslim-Americans.
Apart from music, Fiasco has ventured into a few other realms of business. He currently runs two clothing lines, Righteous Kung Fu and Trilly & Trully. He has also designed sneakers for Reebok. Fiasco is also a known philanthropist and has been involved in many charitable activities such as the Summit on the Summit expedition. He also recorded a single for the 2010 Haiti Earthquake relief fund. Most recently, Fiasco has founded a start up company called Neighborhood Start Fund which provides funds to help small businesses in the inner cities of this country get their start.