Concert Review: Lupe Fiasco at Firefly Music Festival in Dover
I don’t have enough good things to say about Lupe Fiasco’s Saturday evening performance at the inaugural Firefly Festival in Dover, DE. Although the socially conscious rapper & hip-hop artist has been on the scene for nearly six years, this was my first introduction, and I have to say, I have been missing out.
Born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco to West African Muslim immigrants, he was raised in a Chicago housing project in the 1980s & 1990s and describes his upbringing as juxtaposed.”On the doorway outside our apartment was the blood from some guy who was shot, but inside there was National Geographic magazines and encyclopedias.” This juxtaposition might just be the secret to his success, as he has the street cred as well as the intelligence to make authentic, well-received hip-hop for fans the world over. Jay-Z has described him as a breath of fresh air, and subsequently helped him launch his career. Three albums and a Grammy later, Dover was treated to this hip-hop powerhouse at the Firefly Music Festival.
Lupe assumed the Backyard Stage at 6:30 pm to deliver a standout performance to throngs of fans, beginning the set with the second cut from 2011′s Lasers, “Words I Never Said.” He thrashed about the stage, punctuated his lyrics with precision, never letting on that the fasting for Ramadan might be wearing him out. His energy is electrifying and the crowd was eating it up. He kept up the pace for “State Run Radio” and “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now,” but afterward he promptly took a seat on the drum stand for a welcomed chance to catch his breath. Frankly, I’m surprised he made it as long as he did.
Lower tempo “Till I Get There” struck me as hip-hop’s answer to a Jimmy Buffett song, and helped him move past fatigue to infuse the rest of the set with an ungodly amount of energy. He kept it up for several more hits including “Kick, Push,” “Out Of My Head,” and “Beautiful Lasers” before wrapping the set with a fitting “The Show Goes On.” Loosely based on Modest Mouse’s “Float On,” it would’ve been cool if the band had strolled over from the Firefly Stage and rocked it with the rapper to create a very unique performance.
Instead of back-up singers, the hooks were pre-recorded. Given that nearly all his hooks involve a collaboration with another R&B superstar, this worked very well, but I must say that it was disappointing that John Legend wasn’t booked for the same evening so we might have experienced a live performance of “Never Forget You.” I was really surprised by how much rock was infused with the expected hip-hop & rap. The band was nothing short of bad-ass, rocking it hard, and playing a prominent role in every song. Lupe’s respect for their talent was evident, as he introduced each member with a short rhyme and long solo during “Daydreamin.”
Lupe Fiasco has charisma in spades. On stage, he exudes professionalism, a love of his craft, and an energy level that could make even your grandma get up and dance. Lyrically, he left behind the gangsta rap for a more socially conscious message that rings truer to his own life story. His authenticity shines through in every note.
Lupe Fiasco’s wicked talent is enough to cross all musical lines. Recently, he wrote an article for the Chicago Sun-Times, where he ponders his place at an Amnesty International event where he was asked to perform for a Nobel Peace Prize winner alongside Bono, Vanessa Redgrave, and a handful of classical musicians. He asks, is he among his contemporaries? Does he deserve to be included in this grouping of stand out talent. The answer, Lupe, is emphatically, YES! Absolutely.
Lupe Fiasco’s fourth studio album, Food & Liquor II is due September 25, 2012. Expect a national tour to follow. Don’t miss your chance to see this superstar in a town near you.
Lupe Fiasco Firefly Setlist
1.Words I Never Said
2. State Run Radio
3. I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now
4. Go Go Gadget Flow
5. Till I Get There
6. Kick, Push
7. Hip-hop Saved My Life
8. The Coolest
9. Out Of My Head
10. Beautiful Lasers
11. Never Forget You
14. Show Goes On