Week 156: “Fighters” by Lupe Fiasco


In the 1980s, rock and roll had become ridiculous.

Or at least, the most popular bands were ridiculous. A genre that started out as something rebellious, grassroots, and political had become a parody of itself. The outfits. The huge hair. The songs about partying and girls. Overly sanitized production and lyrical emptiness that took the heart out of the music. There is certainly a place for that kind of music, don’t get me wrong. But as the 80s turned into the 90s, mainstream rock was not doing anything new.

Meanwhile, a new kind of musical culture was emerging. Hip hop was rebellious, grassroots, and political in the same way rock had been a few decades earlier. I remember buying my first hip hop record and feeling immediately connected to something exciting.

Fast forward to the present day. I would argue that hip hop has evolved in the same way rock did. Most mainstream hip hop today gives us very little in the way of rebelliousness or political statements, but is more concerned with partying and girls, just like mainstream rock was in the 80s.

Which is why artists like Lupe Fiasco, and albums like his 2007 release, “The Cool”, are so refreshing. He’s a reminder that hip hop is doing fine, as long as you’re ready to search beyond what makes it to radio, and the generic, watered-down suburban mall rap that is currently occupying the mainstream.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The percussion is really light and crackly. It almost sounds like a needle skipping at the end of a record that someone forgot to take off the turntable.

2. Guest vocalist Matthew Santos has an interesting voice. The way he articulates his words reminds me of Feist.

3. With each chorus, there’s a bit more harmony. Except the very last chorus, when everything else fades out, and we’re left with a single vocal line.

Recommended listening activity:

Giving something a second chance.

Buy it here.