Bust out the good decorations and start preparing the seven layer dip, because there are birthdays to celebrate today. It's a particularly strong day for drummers, as both Slayer skinsman Dave Lombardo and Foo Fighters time keeper Taylor Hawkins turn one year wiser today (Lombardo is 46, Hawkins 39). But the MTV Newsroom crew is most excited for Lupe Fiasco, who turns 29 years old today.
Chicago native Fiasco (born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco) first started writing and recording hip-hop tracks when he was 17, and at 19 formed a group called Da Pak (they signed a record deal and released a single but split up before an album could be completed). Fiasco made a big splash on the mixtape circuit, dropping the beloved Fahrenheit 1/15 series over the course of 2006. In the meantime, Fiasco attracted the attention of both Jay-Z (who he met briefly during his tenure as a member of the Arista Records roster) and Kanye West (who liked Fiasco's mixtape versions of "Jesus Walks" and "Diamonds From Sierra Leone"), and he scored a breakout hit with "Kick, Push," a pop-friendly blast of fresh air that blended streetwise storytelling with Fiasco's brainy worldview. It remains the best hip-hop skateboarding anthem of all time.
Fiasco has continued to push the limits of hip-hop. He followed up his smash debut Food & Liquor with the genre-bending The Cool. Since then, he has dabbled in a bunch of different projects, including a supergroup with West and Pharrell Williams called CRS (Child Rebel Soldier) and one of the best mixtapes of 2009 in Enemy of the State: A Love Story (which features Fiasco rapping over Radiohead's "The National Anthem," among other tracks). His third album (and long-awaited) album Lasers is scheduled to be released next month, and it features the single "Show Goes On," which fully captures Fiasco's unique energy and approach to the rap world.