After the public battle he’s waged with this record company over his third album “Lasers,” Lupe Fiasco probably just wants to lay down and take it easy for awhile.
The Chicago rapper did indeed lay down at his concert Saturday night at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center, introducing his five-piece band while on his back and staring up at the ceiling. “This is probably the worst I’ve ever felt on stage,” Fiasco said, after complaining of illness throughout the night and bragging he was running strictly on adrenaline and cold medicine.
But he never let his sickness get the better of him, turning out a stellar, high-energy performance that bolstered his reputation as one of hip-hop’s top live performers. That it unfolded in front of a crowd that was less than half-capacity at the EMU arena was something of a shame.
“Lasers” is an uneven affair, presenting a dumbed-down version of the hip-hop revolutionary from Fiasco’s first two sets. But Fiasco and his band – which included an electric violin player – gave ample muscle to the material during the 80-minute show, beefing up the grooves and giving considerable stomp to songs such as the defiant opener “Words I Never Said” and the show’s centerpiece, “Beautiful Lasers.”
Fiasco – the Chicago rapper born Wasalu Jaco – worked the stage like a rock star, vibing with his bandmates and darting across the stage, which utilized a lit up anarchy symbol as its backdrop. Fiasco spent a large portion of the show perched atop a platform at the foot of the stage, a cue he may have picked up from the Deftones, the California hard rock band of whom he is an admirer. He has picked up pointers from other rock artists too, and isn’t content to rap to tracks or simply pace back and forth in front of the audience. Fiasco is an artist who truly understands and respects the art of live performance.
Fiasco has said he was depressed to the point of suicide while making “Lasers,” but he’s channeled that negativity to a positive place. If this is what he can do with a project he practically abandoned, what can he do with something he actually likes?