Lupe Fiasco has been on a roll since he made his debut in 2006, with his landmark album, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor. And though Lupe himself has weathered a tough childhood in the streets of Chicago’s west side, as well as the trappings of the industry, and come out in a better place, the memories of his tortured past still haunt him. That was never more apparent than on this week’s episode of MTV’s “RapFix Live,” when Lupe shed tears for the many Chicago friends he’s lost over the years.
While sitting with host Sway Calloway, Lupe watched a 6-year old clip of the MTV show “My Block,” in which Lupe took MTV cameras around his hometown. But as Lupe watched the footage, which showed some of his old friends, he began to weep, letting the tears fall behind his big, round sunglasses.
“… Some of them dudes is dead,” Lupe said after the clip rolled, taking several moments to collect himself.
“Chicago’s the murder capital. The dudes in that video are in prison, a couple of fed cases, and then there [are] ghosts. You see people that, that ain’t there,” he said sobbing.
One of those friends in dire straits is Lupe’s mentor, friend and business partner, Charles “Chilly” Patton, who was sentenced to 44 years in prison in 2007 for drug conspiracy.
And in his “My Block” clip, a younger Lupe claimed that poverty-stricken conditions that he and his friends came from were nothing to smile about and nothing that could even be fixed by his uplifting music.
“Ain’t no song that I can make, there’s no ‘We are the World’ that I’m gonna make that’s gonna unify and make all this better,” he said back then.
As Lupe sat, crying over the memories of his shattered past, he somberly explained that there is still no hope for some that are still living on Chicago’s west side.
“Nothing’s changed,” he said. “Some of those kids ain’t gonna make it out of there. You feel so helpless. That was me, talking to me six years ago.”
“For me to see myself six years ago, surrounded by people that’s not even here, reppin’ the ‘hood, doin’ what they do, that never left. It’s a sober thing to me,” he continued. “It’s sobering because you know your father was right, your mother was right.”
Despite his sadness, Lupe delivered a final powerful message to those still living in his old ‘hood.
“You gotta get out. Stick to what you know and get out. Because if you stay here, you gonna die, and you not gonna die for anything heroic, you not gonna die for anything meaningful. You gonna die for something that is worthless and nobody is gonna remember your name,” said Lupe.
Regretfully, Lupe may not have been able to save those around him, but his deeply layered and reflective lyrics have undoubtedly saved the lives of many men and women, more than he’ll ever know. Check out some of his most inspiring songs below. –nicholas robinson