[artist id="2017563"]Lupe Fiasco[/artist] was tapped by [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] as someone to keep an eye on years ago after the mogul reportedly missed out on the chance to sign the Chicago MC. Since that time, however, the "Kick, Push" rapper has had a rocky road to stardom.
Fiasco's first two albums, Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor and The Cool, earned critical praise, Grammy nominations and a dedicated fanbase. But the rapper also endured a public battle with his label, Atlantic Records, over the direction of his third album, L.A.S.E.R.S., and the incarceration of his manager.
The challenges haven't been lost on Fiasco, as he revealed in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, explaining the battle over his lead single, "The Show Goes On."
"I was literally told for 'The Show Goes On' that I shouldn't rap too deep," he told the newspaper. "I shouldn't be too lyrical. It just needs to be something easy on the eyes. Like a record company telling Picasso that we don't need these abstract interpretations of life, where people have to sit down and look at it and break it down. It was better to paint the Upper West Side lady and her poodle so everyone could look at it right away and understand what was going on. I felt like I was painting poodles."
Fiasco has long raged against "360" deals, the standard record deal for new artists that allows labels to make money off of more than just album sales, including tour merchandise, songwriting publishing and the like. He claims that because he refused to sign a 360 deal, his project is less of a priority for the record company.
Last year, fans of the rapper organized "Fiasco Friday," where they rallied for the release of the L.A.S.E.R.S. album, which resulted in a release date being set shortly after. The album leaked online this week, in advance of its official release date of March 8.
After initial displeasure with executives, Fiasco said he found a balance with the album. Still, he described the project as being one he had mixed feelings about.
"I'm comfortable and happy with the record as a whole, where before there was an imbalance," he explained. "I hate this record, the process of making this record, and I love this record. What I had to go through was not fun, the ugliness I saw in people. But I love the manifesto, that the message got out, that fans protested for four hours in front of the label's New York headquarters and demanded attention."