His recent spats on Twitter with the who's who of hip-hop and not his music keep him relevant, but few in the music industry have fans as dedicated as Lupe Fiasco. Lasers, which the fans fought for was a fiasco by Fiasco from the start, but that didn't stop it from gaining the attention it did. Although releasing Tetsuo And Youth was no piece of cake, this fifth and final release from Atlantic Records, forced byAnonymous, a group of hackers, whom Lupe acknowledged with a wordless V on Twitter is probably his best in a long time since Lasers. Behind all the drama, a tired, religious, observant, self-critical, and nerdy Lupe is back to remind us why he is good at what he does.
On Tetsuo And Youth, Lupe breaks the record and tracks down to seasons with Summer being the first. Mural, a 9-minute track is the first thing to hit you and like Lupe says, it is the precursor to a party that he throws in parts. Lupe spits his vicious and honest bars over the church like sample from the Cortex's Chanson D'un Jour D'hiver, reminding you that despite his interest in anime and nerdy stuff, the rapper is far from what his contemporaries peg him to be. Aussie Idol winner Guy Sebastian joins Lupe on Blur My Hands. Tinged with rock and roll, sick beats, piano hooks and the very pop-esque voice of Sebastian, Lupe's pop-rap combo is a sure-fire hit if it were to hit the radio stations. Whoever paired the two artists after their earlier collab Battle Scars - a rather pop-themed collab from Food and Liquor II, deserves an award for pairing chalk and cheese to such perfection. Dots & Lines is a perfect example of despite the association of rap with the ghettos and the projects, it is also the birthplace of another major contribution to music, R&B. At his lyrical zenith, Fiasco raps his way through what would have been a perfectly sung dark R&B song by The Weeknd. The production quality on this track is excellent starting from the rather disconnected banjo instrumentations at the beginning and the end of the track to the violin solos backed by a choir like treatment of the chorus and the soulful almost religious fervour Lupe shows in attempting to break his deal with Atlantic records after being trapped in all the dots and lines on their contracts for years. Translate it whatever way you want to, but Tetsuo and Youth has something for everyone.
Winter led by Prisoner 1 & 2 Ft. Ayesha Jaco is the rap version of Chicago's Cell Block Tango, except Lupe plays both sinner and savior on a track that talks about how his friend and himself are locked in prisons of their own. Life in the prison is not glamorous whether it is the actual one or ones we've put ourselves into and so is the track. Harsh, real, gritty and loaded with vocal references to prisoners, the song is interposed with gospel-tinged violin solos and hooks proclaiming that 'Love is Looking Over Various Errors And Hate is Habitually Accelerating Terror'. As the violins interspersed with the sounds of bars and chains kicks in, winter turns harsher when Prisoner enters its other half. Assisted by his sister, Lupe leads a successful transition to Prisoner 2, where looped synths, electronica and thumping beats replace the violins and comforting choruses from the first half.
Body Of Work ft. Troi is a rap/soul collab about Lupe's relationship with hip-hop and drugs. R&B and rap are mixed to make of the album's unmissable tracks. The track is all over the place with its references to modern pop culture, religion (might sound blasphemous, but you've gotta give it to Lupe for writing lyrics like Write it in lights, molly in the body of Christ/ Fourteen broads like the king of Norway/Fourteen broads having dreams of foreplay/Fourteen arm Shiva/If the government get it I'm a fool) and culture with a reference to the great Greek playwright Sophocles' Oedipus with 'Oedipus wrecks, motherfucker this better than sex'. Politics, religion, sex, culture, and science, I mean there's nothing Lupe has left untouched on the track that ends with a jazzy saxophone solo played on the sound of simulated fireworks, a solo that runs for almost 2 minutes before the song climaxes to a somewhat understated end.
Nikki Jean features on 3 of the tracks that made the tracklist, the first being Little Death. You'd have to hear the track carefully to understand that Lupe plays with religious paradigms, sex, animal cruelty, justice, and politics, while the sultry hooks by Nikki Jean are actually the enticing voice of the devil as she challenges his views all through the song. References to the French term, "la petite mort" isn't obvious until the last hook, but like its literal translation the song is a spiritual release from a eargasmic experience.
On what is arguably one of the best songs on this album, Lupe shines his best with Nikki Jean by his side onNo Scratches. Comparing a relationship doomed to end up in heartbreak with a crash, Nikki's hooks and Lupe's bars ooze experience and wisdom urging one to pull out from a relationship that has no future. The less I talk about it, the better. And, I mean that in a very good way. Listen to skilled wordplay. This track is a lesson to up and coming rappers. Nothing can beat simple English played to a beat that's catchy and is more meaningful than any combination of words that come up after you hit the thesaurus. That hook is probably another reason why -if released on the radio- this track will be scorching the charts.
Winter with its eerie sounds and ominous notes starts with Chopper Ft. Billy Blue, Buk Of Psychodrama, Trouble, Trae Tha Truth, Fam-Lay & Glasses Malone. The album's only multi-feature is impressive but clocking at 9:33 minutes feels out of place with the themes Lupe played with on Tetsuo and Youth.
On the 12th track on the album comes Deliver, the first single that announced the record. One of the best tracks besides the others mentioned earlier, peace is likened to the pizza delivery man who doesn't visit dangerous neighborhoods anymore. Ty Dolla $ign who features on the track is just as good as Lupe himself. The rookie upstages his senior in a few parts of track, making this his Nicki Minaj/Monster moment.
Nikki Jean returns to play Lupe's disciple/sidekick as he preaches his way on Madonna (And Other Mothers In The Hood). For all the backlash we Catholics receive for being sticklers to rituals and rigid ways of the centuries gone by, no other faith allows itself to be abused and figuratively used in a way Catholicism does. Lupe's fascination with faith is manifest in the way he's arranged the last three tracks on the album to sound like the Madonna gives birth to the Adoration Of The Magi Ft. Crystal Torres, only to be resurrected as T.R.O.N. Madonna, the Italian name for the Virgin Mary, is a reference to the single mothers raising children in the ghettos. This song is a homage to worried mothers and and the bids they make to keep the kids safe, with Crystal Torres even mouthing the response to the Hail Mary in Spanish before the best verse on the song makes its debut. Lupe's fixation with Jesus and his crucifixion receive an intelligent and excellent transfiguration making the final verse the best on the track. Just the comparisons alone to that epic event in history are epic in a way elevating Lupe to another realm among the hip-hop greats. Nothing beats the intro though. Who nowadays writes lyrics like 'Immaculate mother of the holy soul/On behalf of the overdose/We come to you uncomfortable in our ways/Please don't slam the door all in my face'. Nothing screams prayer and fervour louder than the intro itself.
Symbolically, Madonna gives birth to Adoration Of The Magi Ft. Crystal Torres. Released on Jan. 6th in Australia, the release was timed with The Epiphany, a lesser celebrated Catholic feast. Lupe's favourite track is my favourite too. I've heard a lot of contemporary rap, but no one I know has tackled wordplay at this level. This song is the proverbial next level shit. Listen to it and you'll know what I mean.
The last track before the instrumental signalling Spring is They.Resurrect.Over.New. Ft. Ab-Soul & Troi. Stylized as T.R.O.N, Ab-Soul and Troi together with Lupe bring the album to a fantastic end. Religious in its theme, yet nerdy and loaded with pop culture references, Lupe digs into tracks from the past to serve as musical fodder for a finale on his last outing with Atlantic Records.
Granted this review is long, but it needed to be a take on one of the best albums in a lyrical sense from one of hip-hop's most underrated, misunderstood, and overwhelming artists. Lupe Fiasco will always be the misunderstood genius, lyricist par excellence, and rap-god that he is but, for now I hope you soak in the genius that he is as you lose yourself in his world on Tetsuo and Youth.
One of our writers sat down with Amy Mansfield, writer of I Didn’t Invite You Hear To Lecture Me, ahead of the Basement shows. Most students throw out their study notes, but not Amy. She has kept hold of them for the past 20 years--vertibiam quotes from her lectures that are too good to ever get rid of. The play was shown throughout the Auckland Fringe Week 2018, and even in some personal living rooms, the vibe is very independent and witty.
It was a cold bleary eyed Saturday night as the clock struck midnight, and counted towards 1am… the time set forth to conjure Richard Shaw, guitarist for legendary UK black metal act Cradle of Filth. We talked ahead of their sold out, first ever performance here in New Zealand.
NZ is about to get OBESSED, with the newest in kiwi music. Local Tauranga sweetheart, Amelia McNabb comes to us fiercely, independently, and with more fire in her lungs than I've heard from any kiwi artist in while. THIS is what we’ve been waiting for.
Elgusto, one part of the innovative electronic/dance music duo, Hermitude, sat down with one of our interviewers this past week; chatting about their loaded schedule, the bands ethos, how they communicate an instrumental show, and their creative collaborations.
Catching up with friends who are musicians at their gigs is always an odd, awkward, rushed affair between sets, pack-down, or a series of inaudible shouts as another band plays. So with the release of the new Seas of Conflict single Monachopsis, I thought it was time I simply scheduled time for a chat, not only once but twice--due to technical issues--with guitarist Declan Storrie.
I recently ventured back to my old festival haunting grounds - or at least the successor thereof. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and after juggling band members between their Festival One main stage duties and their prior commitments off-site, I managed to sit down with the guys and gal from Amanaki - one of the few hardcore-metal acts to perform at the mostly radio-friendly festival.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
Andrew Fagan returns with a satirical take on today’s social media preoccupied society. Being an amateur social anthropologist, it is a topic close to his heart. Listen to new track On Channel Me below, off Fagan’s forthcoming solo album Act Normal, due for release in October on Southbound.
Brisbane’s own indie rock royalty, The Grates, have been invited along for the ride, and will treat their hometown crowd to classics from their extensive and impressive catalogue of tunes including 19-20-20 and Turn Me On.
Pixies, one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time, have announced a second show for Brisbane fans due to overwhelming demand. Following on from Melbourne’s second show announced on Friday (on sale 12pm today!), Brisbane fans have been just as eager to see catch the influential music pioneers, selling out the Fortitude Music Hall date on March 13. A second show has been added at the same venue on Thursday March 12 as part of their mammoth world tour, Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa.
The Ugly Kings, featuring Devil Electric guitarist, Christos Athanasias, are four powerhouse blues rockers drawing influence from an eclectic and dynamic musical background. They offer a powerful injection of energy and emotion to the modern rock scene, formulating what can only be described as power blues. They have released a new music video for Black Widow, featuring an award winning burlesque dancer Ferri Maya. Plus announced a live show this weekend!
Fame and fortune on the Kiwi music scene are a step closer for the top 10 acts just announced in Smokefreerockquest, New Zealand’s biggest live, nationwide all original music event for high school students.
Pluto’s nascent trajectory has covered the spectrum of the New Zealand musical stratosphere, bursting brightly onto the scene in 2001 just to have their star seemingly burn out just as abruptly in 2009. It would have been a suitably intriguing end to befall one of the finest, most exciting and alluring bands New Zealand has ever produced.
Exhilarating and high energy New Zealand rock band, Written By Wolves, have just released their killer new track, Tell Me What You’re Running From? This is the first single from the band’s upcoming new album, set for release later this year.
Australia’s foremost authority on progressive rock, Caligula’s Horse, are just weeks away from kicking off their Let It Grow tour which will celebrate their cult classic The Tide, The Thief & River's End and breakout progressive masterpiece Bloom by playing them back to back!
Within the four walls of The Fortitude Music Hall, lies The Outpost. Brisbane’s newest 300 capacity multipurpose venue that will feature a diverse program of artists, an impressive drinks menu featuring a cocktail list curated by the talented team at Proof & Company.
After spending the past year pulverizing the world with their stupefying live performances, Tropical Fuck Storm return home to tour their new album Braindrops and put the Antipodean public to the sword! Braindrops, the follow up to 2018's epic odyssey, A Laughing Death In Meatspace, will be released on Flightless Records in August
It’s been 20 years since The Flaming Lips released the one-of-a-kind aural hallucination that is The Soft Bulletin. To celebrate the anniversary of its release, The Flaming Lips will play a special show at Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall.
Backstreet’s back, alright! Get your group together, because the biggest selling Boy Band of all time (100 million albums), the BACKSTREET BOYS are heading back to New Zealand in 2020 for a show at Auckland’s Spark Arena on Saturday, May 16.
Platinum-certified independent singer, songwriter, producer, and pop visionary Lauv has released new single 'fuck, I'm lonely' with Anne-Marie today. The track will be featured on Lauv’s forthcoming debut album titled ~how i'm feeling
Frontier Touring and Roundhouse Entertainment are excited to announce that Norwegian pop icons a-ha are returning to Australia for the first time in 34 years, before heading to New Zealand for the very first time! They’ll be joined by very special guest Rick Astley at all February & March 2020 shows, taking in Sydney, Melbourne, and Christchurch, as well as a day on the green events in Australia and New Zealand.
Hitting a massive nine centres on his regional tour this September, Stan will take the stage to perform songs from his impressive catalogue plus his brand new pop smash single Give (co-written by Matiu Walters of SIX60) for his beloved fans. The Springboard tour will also boast three of NZ’s most up-and-coming new artists – Lepani, Niko Walters and Jordan Gavet.
TEG DAINTY and THE MISSION ESTATE WINERY CONCERT announced today that global superstar Michael Bublé will return in February 2020! Accompanied by a 36-piece orchestra and ready to to thrill his New Zealand fans for one night only; this will be Michael Bublé’s only show in New Zealand.
Elton John will perform a third and final show at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium, to satisfy New Zealand’s insatiable demand. It has also been announced that, due to a scheduling conflict, three of Elton’s sold out New Zealand concerts have been delayed by one week. Rescheduled dates affect the second show at Mission Estate Winery, and the first two Mt Smart Stadium shows in Auckland.
Vocal prodigy RUEL is returning to New Zealand for one show in Auckland at the Bruce Mason Centre in May. Counting Elton John and Khalid among his fans, RUEL is taking the globe by storm, smashing show records, and he’s only 16 years old.
Exactly six years to the day since the release of Vance Joy’s debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing, Liberation Records are pleased to reveal an extremely limited run of the EP have been pressed on vinyl for the first time ever for release on Friday 26 April. Vance Joy has also announced he will bring his Ukuleles For Kids program to Australia in a new partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia. Launched in the USA last year the program delivers ukuleles and how-to video tutorials lead by Vance Joy to children’s hospitals.
LA two-piece Moby Rich have announced two headline shows on their debut Australian tour this May. With their latest single Blink bringing further attention to the duo, this Australian tour is the perfect opportunity to catch two indie stars on the rise. Support on the tour comes from yergurl in Melbourne, whose lo-fi beats and unique pop style made her a Triple J Unearthed favourite. Sydney support will be from Hoodlem, a streaming sensation with her mix of experimental soul and future R&B.
Darren Middleton (POWDERFINGER), Mark Wilson (JET), Davey Lane (YOU AM I) and Kram (SPIDERBAIT) have joined forces to become ARC, one of the most collectively celebrated and successful supergroups in Australia’s rock history will be performing Abbey Road live, commemorating 50 years of existence.
Abbey Road, The Beatles' swansong and their crowning achievement as a recording group - is a stately, majestic, playful yet fiercely rocking masterpiece of pop music, regarded as one of the greatest records of all time.
On the heels of releasing several collaborative hit tracks this year, five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson returns with a brand new single of his own ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus.
TEG Dainty and Nice Events are excited to announce that Emmy-nominated television personality, podcaster and hairstylist to the stars, Jonathan Van Ness, will bring his Road to Beijing world tour to New Zealand
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.