I've been listening to a lot of Lupe Fiasco lately, namely albums The Cool and Food and Liquor.
I can honestly say that I appreciate him as an artist more now than I ever have. I'm not a stanish follower of the Chicago artist. I know he is constantly giving his fans small updates on the progress he's making on his new music, but I generally get that second hand. I am a fan of his work and basically am waiting for his next album to drop.
I don't claim to know what Lupe is doing from a marketing point of view, but I can certainly see what is brewing.
He's really managing the demand of his music by not flooding the market with disposable mixtapes and meaningless freestyles. To clarify, that's not to say that all mixtapes and freestyles are pointless. I don't think that. For example, 50's War Angel was a solid "mixtape" (street album) and it served him well over the summer. There are others that have had well-placed freestyles that have impact that transcend the norm. Crooked I did over 52 freestyles in his "Hip-Hop Weekly" series and created demand.
But, more often than not, these successful rappers are seasoned vets and the releases serve a promotional purpose to attain a higher goal. Like 50's Before I Self Destruct and Crooked's super group Slaughterhouse are the results of that push. The new artist probably needs to find a merger of the two, but generate a demand like I feel Lupe is doing.
Lupe is fostering a need for his presence in the present climate of Hip-Hop.
On the low, everything he does, people go crazy. For example, a couple fans of Lupe Fiasco emailed myself and others on the AllHipHop staff to inform us that he was doing a
Here is a news flash: rappers are a dime a dozen. A dime a dozen.
This is sad a regrettable for those that are unable to accept it. More rappers need to find ways to attain attention based on legitimate tactics like the quality of their music. I'm not even opposed to a "rap beef" that makes some sense, but that's mostly a quick, feeble fix. There are other metrics for their success. The ability to generate excitement around their project is another quality that is meaningful. Lupe is doing these at his various shows. He's doing it in code blog messages. He's doing it in these commercials, that actually tell fans that "I mean more to you than just music." As far as I can ascertain, Lupe's base of fans is rock solid and whenever that is the case, the masses come (with the proper promotion and marketing).
So, for the young rapper, the point here is to create a demand and sustain that demand all the way until your album is released. The worst way is to undermine your own effort is to flood the streets and internet before the demand is there. You only over-satisfy your fan base and have a few less reasons to buy an album. Now, if the demand is there and you release a mixtape or flood the market, you are then satisfying a demand or delivering the streets something to hold them down.
But, I like how Lupe is doing it.
He's patient. He's deliberate. And he's building something that will live on for years to come. The money will follow...
This means, after his recording career is over, there will most likely be people that want to see him live for years to come. I was amazed at the way the Goodie Mob was received at their reunion in Atlanta. That lead to them being the highlight of the BET Hip-Hop Awards. No need to sully your legacy flailing around the internet in search of relevance. Do this right and relevance will find you.
Have faith, then deliver.