By Daniel Paiz
I’ve been to around seven or eight Lupe Fiasco shows in life, and all of them in Denver.
There’s the somewhat preachy Lupe, the Lupe who plays Promise and Chopper and turns up, the Lupe who’s deeply committed to performing his newest album in its entirety, etc. etc. The Lupe we witnessed tonight at Summit Music Hall in Denver honestly felt like an amalgamation of all of those together, as if we witnessed a lyrical Voltron or the Megazord from Power Rangers (your choice). The flow of the show was perfect, as Double O (Fiasco’s tour DJ and formerly of Kidz in the Hall) laid the canvass for Lupe to paint his masterpiece surrounded by walls.
There were also a few moments that were signature Lupe, if you know what I mean.
“You got your food…”
If you have never witnessed a Lupe Fiasco show, the good news is that you have as much of a chance guessing the opening song as someone who has. I genuinely can’t recall the opening song being the same from the seven performances I’ve witnessed. Tonight started with the wonderful DJ trick Double O knows well, where you play the original sample a song uses and slowly play more of it until the audience gets what song it is. “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)” flooded out the speakers after the crowd recognized the well-known sample (also used in “They Reminisce Over You” classic by Pete Rock and CL Smooth).
Fiasco followed my favorite track off of Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album with my other favorite tracks from his other six albums, including “The Instrumental”, “The Coolest”, and “Kick, Push”. The crowd seemed a bit disjointed, as pockets of fans (like myself) rapped whatever portions they knew while larger pockets nodded along and seemed almost lost. This wasn’t lost on Fiasco from the jump.
“I know some of you are here for two songs,” Fiasco said. “The Show Goes On and Superstar; maybe Daydreamin'” Fiasco said while waving his hand back and forth.
“That’s ok. We’re going to do something a little different tonight, and you might not hear those songs.”
It’s funny because Lupe cracked jokes between songs and while most of the time it felt like playful banter, there were a few times where the joke was etched out of truth. This included a hard pill to swallow for this fan after a particular joke.
“…and your liquor.”
It’s likely poetic justice that “Hurt Me Soul” figuratively made me clutch my chest as that’s where I think my soul resides. I’m paraphrasing here, but he equated the crowd’s lack of rapping the second line of the song as to why Denver isn’t on the “Food and Liquor” tour coming up where Lupe raps his debut album from front to back. The guy next to me who was also rapping along on the line about “cuz he said didn’t pray to God, he prayed to Gotti” kept rapping until we heard that.
Sure, it was a joke. But jokes have a hint of truth to them and those of us paying attention knew he meant it. However, it was a minor blip in the show for those of us losing our voices. The combination of deep cuts from the 1st & 15th rapper’s discography with his hits made for a one of a kind experience. “Mural” and “Mural Jr.” were performed back to back, a first for Fiasco in two ways: he supposedly has never played “Mural Jr.” live before, and he hasn’t played them back to back before.
One of the few constants you can expect from the West Side Chicago emcee is his ironic, show-ending choice of “The Show Goes On”, and him quoting his grandmother’s famous words of “Peace! And much love to you” at the end of his set. Otherwise prepare for a show you’ve haven’t witnessed before.