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Lupe Fiasco: 'I’m not playing it safe'

He may be keeping politics out of his new songs, but the rapper swears he hasn’t gone soft.

"Hip-hop has always been about communication," Fiasco tells Metro. "Hip-hop has always been about communication," Fiasco tells Metro.

Lupe Fiasco's fans call him the “realest rapper.” The artist has never been shy about using his songs to speak his mind, especially when it comes to politics and social issues. So teaming up with Ed Sheeran to sing about love might come as a surprise.

“I was a little hesitant at first,” Fiasco says about his collaboration with the red-headed Brit on his new single, “Old School Love.” “My friend Guy Sebastian, who did ‘Battle Scars’ with me off my last album, told me I had to do it.” It’s good Fiasco took his friend’s advice. The song is in heavy radio rotation and is steadily climbing the charts.

“Old School Love” is the first single off Fiasco’s upcoming album, “Tetsuo and Youth” (out early 2014), which the rapper says is darker than his past four albums. “’Old School Love’ is a very soft song, but the rest of the album is a bit harder and more aggressive. I didn’t want to make a soft and fluffy album,” he says.

Unlike his last album, Fiasco is steering clear of politics on his new record, but the tracks are by no means “safe.” One song, “Crack,” is about crack cocaine, and in “Blur My Hands,” he raps about road rage. “The song is about people flipping you the bird, but it’s about taking that and saying you’re actually No. 1.”

Fiasco is previewing his new songs on the tour, but he’ll of course be showcasing his old hits like "Kick Push" and "Superstar" — and he will be paying close attention to the audience to see who knows the words. “One of my most memorable fan encounters was of this guy who was a couple rows from the front and he knew the words to every song — even the small weird songs and the limited edition songs,” Fiasco says. “I ended up bringing him on stage.”

Now that Fiasco’s been on the scene for a while, he’s using his fame to introduce new talent at his concerts. Mickey Factz, New Orleans rapper Dee-1 and Chicago-based Boy Illinois are all sharing the stage with Fiasco throughout the 32-city tour. “They’ve just been killing it,” Fiasco says. “Now that I’m a sort-of veteran, I’m more excited about seeing my homies come up and shine than I am about playing stadiums or seeing people jump around.” It seems Fiasco really is all about the love these days.

Lupe Fiasco
Dec. 9 & 10
Irving Plaza
Click here to tickets.

 

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