Lupe Fiasco was born and raised in the west side of Chicago on the Madison Terrace housing project. His mother, named Shirley, was a gourmet chef. His Father, named Gregory, was a plant engineer, a karate teacher, an entrepreneur, a drummer, and a member of the Black Panther Party. Lupe Fiasco’s family was Muslim which explains the ‘Muhammad’ in his name. At the age of 5, his parents divorced and he lived with his mother after the divorce. Though he was living with his mom, his father still played a big part in his life, and has mentioned of how his dad used to take him and his siblings out to see the world after school.
While attending the sixth grade, Lupe Fiasco started living his father full time in Harvey, Illinois. At the time, his father was living in a bad neighborhood, and his house was next to a crack house which led to him teaching Lupe Fiasco on how to use guns in order to defend himself from the drug dealers roaming the area. Although he was living in an unstable environment, Lupe Fiasco said that he was very well educated and that his parents encouraged him and his siblings to read, and educated him on a diverse list of subjects.
He initially hated hip hop due to its vulgarity, misogynistic attitude, and violent lyrics. Growing up, he mostly listened to jazz music, and one of his favorite artists was a Clarinet player named Benny Goodman. Lupe always wanted to play some form of musical instrument; however, he had great difficulties learning any, which led to him focusing on writing poetries instead. Lupe Fiasco started rapping his poems in the 8th grade and later developed a passion for hip hop which he claims came after listening to Nas’ 1996 album titled ‘It was Written’. Lupe Fiasco started rapping at his dad’s basement, at the age of 19 he formed a group named ‘Da Pak’ which soon signed to Epic Records. His new formed group’s success was short lived; they soon disbanded after releasing one single.
Following the group’s break up, Lupe Fiasco decided to become a solo artist and signed with Arista Records. That relationship would be short lived, due to the company’s CEO and Chairman ‘LA Reid’ being fired, which also meant that Lupe Fiasco had to leave the label. Being an unsigned artist, Lupe Fiasco decided to create multiple mixtapes and upload them online to increase his popularity and attract new music fans. All his hard work would start paying off after being featured in Mike Shinoda's "Fort Minor: We Major" mixtape, that mixtape landed in the hand of Jay Z whom greatly appreciated Lupe Fiasco’s music style and described him as a breath of fresh air. Jay Z thought Lupe Fiasco sounded like a younger version of him and he would later help Lupe Fiasco land a recording deal with Atlantic Records.
Kanye West released ‘Diamonds from Sierra Leone’ in 2005, Lupe would soon after release a remix, but instead named it ‘Conflict Diamonds’. Lupe’s remix to Kanye West’s song was well received, and caught the attention of Kanye West, whom later invited him to be featured in his song ‘Touch the Sky’ off of his album ‘Late Registration’. Touch the Sky was a hit on the charts and gave Lupe Fiasco a nice buzz in the music world. Lupe decided to take advantage of the momentum by releasing his first single ‘Kick, Push’ for his upcoming album at an earlier date than planned. A video was released for the single, and that song would end up getting him nominated for two 2007 Grammy Awards.
Lupe Fiasco’s rapping style is often categorized as Conscious hip hop and he is often credited as one of the founders along with others rappers such as Common, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli. Lupe’s albums often touch on various social issues the world is facing including absent parents, education, violence, culture, economics, terrorism, Islam and religion, war, and prostitution among others. Lupe credits his parents for his style of rap, and claims both of them are extremely intelligent individuals whom introduced him to a wide variety of cultures. He despises the misogynistic nature of hip hop, despise those views he believes no music should be censored, because for all of them to be censored, everyone would have to be blind and deaf and he believe that’s unrealistic.
Lupe Fiasco is the CEO of 1rst and 15th Entertainment which he co-founded with Charles ‘Chilly Patton which stands for the dates of individuals getting bi-monthly paychecks from their jobs. Though 1st & 15th produces most of his work, it is operated as an independent record label separate from Atlantic Records which he is signed to. Lupe was initially the record label’s vice president, but soon became the CEO after co-founder Charles ‘Chilly’ Patton went to prison for drug related offences. The two most popular artists from his record label were himself and Matthew Santos. In November, 2009, Lupe Fiasco announced to the world his decision to discontinue his 1st & 15th label, citing that it just wasn’t the right time for him to be operating it, and he lacked the means needed to do so. In 2013, Lupe Fiasco announced that he was a Creative Director at Higi.com which helps individuals find more about themselves and provide them with ways to better themselves. Higi gives all participants a number which they attempt to improve, and describes that number known as the ‘Higi Score’ as a “number unique to you, measured in real-time, that allows you to quantify your life. The Score helps you discover how the choices you make today will impact your health down the road.”
Lupe Fiasco is also the founder of Righteous Kung-Fu which he founded in 2005. Righteous Kung-Fu is a business that designs fashions, sneakers, toys, video games, comic books, and graphics for album covers and skateboard decks. Righteous Kung-Fu also contains a fashion line named Trilly & Truly. Lupe’s company has endorsements deal with DGK Skateboards, and has sponsored numerous skateboard teams. In January of 2006, Lupe Fiasco signed with Reebok to join their ‘O.G’ marketing campaign which gives hip hop artists such as Lil Wayne a chance to design their own version of their Reebok ‘O.G’ model footwear.
In 2010, Lupe Fiasco joined an expedition to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro called Summit of Summit in an attempt to raise awareness for the billions of people around the world whom lack access to clean drinking water. In 2010, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. Artists around the world joined together to release a compilation album titled ‘Music for Relief’ with the goal of encouraging individuals to donate toward the immediate and long term recovery for Haiti, Lupe Fiasco was part of the compilation album, and released a song with Kenna titled ‘Resurrection’.
Though Lupe Fiasco rarely talks of his religion in public, he has claimed that he is a Muslim and that his religion affects his daily life choices. He also said that the reason he doesn’t talk much of his religion is because he doesn’t want to be seen as the poster boy for Islam, which he believes would lead individuals to associate all of his actions with the Islamic faith. He believes if he ever does anything wrong, then critics will be quick to label them as a flaw of Islam. He released a mixtape titled ‘Fahrenheit 1/15’, it contained a song titled ‘Muhammad Walks’ which was a remix of Kanye West’s popular song titled ‘Jesus Walks’. Lupe Fiasco can also be heard making Islamic references in many of his songs such as ‘Hurt Me Soul’, ‘Little Weapon’, ‘Hi-Definition’ as well as numerous other songs.
Lupe Fiasco’s anti-establishment views are well documented. While on the TV show ‘The Colbert Report’, Fiasco stated his political standing as such "You should criticize power even if you agree with it.” In another TV show ‘What’s Trending’ which airs on CBS, he stated “My fight against terrorism, to me, the biggest terrorist is Obama and the United States of America. I'm trying to fight the terrorism that's actually causing the other forms of terrorism. You know, the root cause of terrorism is the stuff the U.S. government allows to happen. The foreign policies that we have in place in different countries that inspire people to become terrorists.” As part of his anti-establishment views, Lupe Fiasco does not vote in elections. Lupe Fiasco performed during Obama’s second presidential inauguration in January 2013, and had to be removed from the stage due to his refusal to play any other songs than ‘Words I Never Said’, which he played for 30 minutes and contained anti-Obama lyrics.
Chief Keef whom is a fellow rapper from Chicago, embodies everything Lupe Fiasco hates about Hip Hop. Chief Keef is a member of the Black Disciples gang, and his lyrics include numerous references to his gang as well as their criminal behaviors, his lyrics are also misogynistic. In September 2012, Lupe Fiasco commented on Chief Keef’s music by saying "Chief Keef scares me" and also stating that Chief Keef represents the violence currently plaguing Chicago. Upon hearing Lupe’s comments, Chief Keef went on twitter and tweeted “Lupe fiasco a hoe *ss ni*a And wen I see him I'ma smack him like da lil b*tch he is #300”. Lupe then tweeted back with multiple tweets of his own “i love u lil bruh @chiefkeef...i really really do from the bottom of my f*cking heart. I know that street shit like the back of my hand.” “I'm trying to DO better @chiefkeef as we all should. We were born with no expectations to make it. born in the hood, live there die there..” “I cant go 4 that @chiefkeef & i cant let the people i love, including you my n*gga, go 4 that either. We kings not f*cking savages and goons”. Chief Keef later tweeted that his account was hacked, and it wasn’t him sending those messages “my twitter has been hacked I think I'm making a new one dumb hating *ss people #DontWannaSeeAYougN*ggaShine”. Lupe Fiasco would later state that his next album might be his last, which led numerous reporters to say that Lupe Fiasco was leaving the Hip Hop world as a result of Chief Keef. In one of Lupe’s shows in September Lupe Fiasco said "I love my brother and want to see him succeed and do his thing...So shout out to the big homie Chief Keef," which led many to believe him Chief Keef have ended their feuds.
Lupe Fiasco has released numerous albums including “Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor (2006)”, “Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (2007)”, “Lasers (2011)”, “Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 (2012)” as well as “Tetsuo & Youth” which is set to be released in 2013. Some of Lupe’s most popular songs includes ‘The Show Goes On”, “Kick Push”, “Superstar”, “Words I Never Said”, “Hip Hop Saved My Life”, Put You On Game”, “Dumb It Down”, “The Instrumental”, “Daydreamin”, and “I’m Beamin”.