“When I first heard the track, and the chorus was already in the track, it was like, ’Hm, what can you talk about, with what the chorus is saying?’ ” Lupe told MTV News on Wednesday (June 4).
“You could be cliche and be like, basketball, a story about a basketball player. Or just something very, very general.” But the Chicago native didn’t want to take that route.
“Coulda died, but I came out fighting,” the chorus booms.
“It was like a eureka moment,” he explained. “I was listening to the beat in the car and I was like, ’Fighting cancer.’ This is the song right here. Once I kind of established that that is what it was gonna be, I just started to pull from personal experiences that I had with people who are fighting cancer; St. Jude’s commercials. Just kind of every reference point that I had from a personal point to just kind of a more general point.”
Those ideas became the single, which will appear on his upcoming Tetsuo & Youth. Each of the three verses on the energetic song tell the story of cancer’s effects on different people — and, more specifically, how they refused to let it overtake them.
There are also more than a dozen additional vocalists on the track, as Lupe enlisted cancer survivors — among them, singer Charlie Wilson — to speak about their experiences during the opening of the six-minute song.
“I didn’t want it to come across as a sad, make-you-cry song,” he said. “I wanted it to be like an uplifting, powerful and almost ratchet.”