Lupe Fiasco loves his fans, and clearly the feeling is mutual. The more he gave last night, the brighter his Lasers shone. The connection Fiasco has with his fans is unmistakable. At one point he stopped the show to ask a fan if he was enjoying himself before allowing him to choose the next song. For his part, the Chicago MC looked right at home with his newly dreaded hair and baby-faced smile. As he spit, his voice sounded notably better than it does on record. There was a halo-like glow surrounding his mike - which very well could have been a laser -- and he wielded it like a king with his scepter.
Opening his set with "Words I Never Said," Fiasco had the crowd instantly fired up and rocking out to the hook in between squeals and yells of excitement. Backed by a full band, Fiasco performed with a huge smile on his face, waving to fans and rocking out like a hip-hop James Brown. "Til I Get There" segued into his more popular material, cuts like "Kick Push" and "Touch the Sky," his collaboration with Kanye West. When Fiasco's verse came up, the crowd screamed back the lyrics. "Hip-Hop Saved My Life" had a laid-back and personal touch to it, and Fiasco looked like a straight-up storytelling griot as he rhymed with vigor.
By the time he got to "Outta My Head" and "Go-Go Gadget Flow," the party was in full effect -- the rapper knows how to keep the party moving. The place was packed, and the audience was bursting with energy. The fact that he was performing on the day Donna Summer died was not lost on the MC, who made mention of this in a freestyle interlude that also included a throw to MCA of the Beastie Boys. Fiasco also touched on the controversy in which he called the president a terrorist, emphasizing that he does indeed feel that way: "You would call the president a fucking terrorist, too," he said, adding that everything he does comes with a purpose, before launching into "Superstar," arguably the best moment of the show.
The lights were bright, Fiasco was in perfect synch, and seeing the chorus of the song sang by more than a thousand people under the glow of purple lighting was incredibly moving. Fiasco looked pleased with the reaction. Sheepishly grinning, he encouraged the crowd to "sing it louder." Fiasco ended his set with "I Don't Wanna Go Right Now" -- a sentiment shared by everybody in the building. Overall, the show felt really intimate for how many people were packed into the place.
Earlier in the evening, the Foodchain gave a pretty good performance considering the stage was really too small for the four MCs. The guys usually give a little more energy, but the staging was definitely tight. Adding "See Lights" to the set list, the guys rocked out to a slightly groggy crowd. The Foodchain is used to playing more anchor support for headlining acts, so the early slot was a different touch. ChampSoundKillaBlack still takes the crowd into the palm of his hands with ease, every time.
With the response Pries got from the crowd, you would've thought he was the headliner. He could have stood there on stage and done nothing, and you got the feeling that the place would still have erupted. With a full band and more gusto in his microphone hand than most MCs ever display, he did his thing and proved that his hustle can most definitely not be knocked.
Personal Bias: I'm not the biggest Lupe Fiasco fan, but he put on an excellent show.
By The Way: Myke Charles and Spoke in Wordz rocked a super-early set that most folks, including myself, missed because it was so early.
Random Detail: They should really figure out a way to fit the DJs on the stage. The pit setup really hurt DJ Mu$a's crowd interaction and completely shielded KDJ Above, as well. I love DJs and want to look at them as well as hear them.
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