lupe the wolf represents

i usually listen to my ipod to and from the library and home. or work and home. it’s my walkin’ pod fulla muzak.

sometimes i just shuffle the whole thing to mix it up and i’m considering just listening to my whole pod on shuffle all the way though. i’ll allow myself a skip forward but otherwise, no selection. full and complete subordination to the shuffle-step algorhythm.

so far i’m at 127/7832, halfway through “primal” by slowdive.

on the walk home from the library today, “superstar” by lupe fiasco came on and for the first time i actually listened to the lyrics closely. great tune. i’ve always liked lupe but i never gave this single the attention it deserved.

Verse 1

Lupe’s verse opens with a transaction as he cashes his microphone check. The rest of the song is for our consideration. So here i am.

He begins, as all stories begin, with doubt.

“Want to believe my own hype but it’s too untrue
The world brought me to my knees”

lupe is not your average contemporary pop hip hop act. For many other artists a song titled superstar would likely be an ego-inflater. [“But with my ego, I can stand there in a Speedo“] Oddly in a song called superstar, lupe begins with a little hubris dodging.

He then issues a challenge to the listener:

“What have you brung you?
Did you improve on the design?
Did you do something new?”

I think this is key to the song’s message as there is nothing new because everything has already been done. Creativity is merely improving the design. And i think, herein lies lupe’s doubt.

What makes a superstar?? If you are what you say you are, have no fear. But what is you anyway?

After commenting on the creative process he worries that

“I’m too uncouth
Unschooled to the rules
And too gum shoe ”

He shouts out his contemporaries (DJ Shadow and James Lavelle) who are likewise struggling with creativity and success, weighed down by their awareness of their musical antecedents. Here, lupe yearns to get outside the narrative yet he also wants to do it in the mode of one of his antecedents.

“Though I need a holiday like lady who sung blue

Verse 2

The second verse outlines the consequence of stardom, to be a superstar is to be the focus of attention. This attention is desired – he wants to be successful. But he also uncovers the flip side of attention in the lines:

“Un-strap him from the chair
And put him back in his cage
The audience ain’t fazed”

To entertain and do what you love is one thing. To be a commodity, a superstar is another. If a superstar doesn’t honor the contract:

“They want everything back that they paid
Cuz they been waiting since ten to see the lights get dim”

Verse 3

In the last verse lupe flips the binary of superstar/audience, individual/community. This reversal was foreshadowed by the song’s opening line addressed to you – the listener. This dovetails with his first verse which i have asserted is a coming to grips with the referential nature of creativity and originality. It is the community that informs the superstar. The camera is recording cause and causing effect. But, uh, have no fear.

“And everybody claps coz everybody is pleased
Then they all take the stage and start performing for me”

“Like ha ha ha ha ha
Ha ha ha ha ha”

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One Comment on “lupe the wolf represents”

  1. uniqhero Says:

    new track – the show goes on

    http://illroots.com/2010/12/25/lupe-fiasco-the-show-goes-on-2/

    at first i was put off but the sample of “float on” but in the end, i think it works. he’s recoding the symbols around him adding an autonomous momentum to the aimlessness inhering in the modest mouse tune.

    improve the design yo!

    all right. all ready.


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