The Moment: In June 2007, Lupe Fiasco’s business partner Charles “Chilly” Patton was sentenced to 44 years in prison on drug charges.
The Reaction: Though Chilly denied—and continues to deny—any wrongdoing, most people were pretty surprised to hear that Lupe was connected to someone going away for that long on drug charges.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HURT! But, in the long run, Chilly’s imprisonment didn’t impact what people thought about Lupe.
The Moment: In April 2010, with his fans still desperately hanging onto the hope that Lasers would one day drop, Lupe released a bonus cut on the soundtrack for The Twilight Saga: New Moon, prompting some fans to label him a sell out.
The Reaction: Lupe took to his MySpace blog (Sidebar: Why did Lupe still have a MySpace blog in early 2010?!? We digress…) to shoot back: “I’m not SELLING OUT by doing a song for NEW MOON…People thought I ‘SOLD OUT’ when I did “Kick, Push.”
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HELP! Sell out or not, a song on the soundtrack to one of the biggest flicks of 2010 is a good look. We’re saw Lu saw a couple bucks off that contribution.
The Moment: At the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors in October 2007, Lupe forgot the words to part of a verse on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation” and later revealed that he had never been a big fan of Tribe’s catalog or their classic 1993 album, Midnight Marauders. The Internet deemed it “Fiascogate.”
The Reaction: Tribe fans were—of course—super pissed off at Lupe for flubbing some of the lines and attacked him for not doing his homework beforehand to make sure he paid proper tribute to Tribe.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HURT! Lupe worked hard to make sure that (most) fans would forget “Fiascogate” by the time 2008 rolled around. But it’s definitely still a blemish on his overall body of work.
The Moment: Last October, Lupe joined a large group of his fans to protest outside of Atlantic Records for the release of Lasers.
The Reaction: Atlantic actually agreed to sit down with Lupe after the protest and even gave him a March release date for the album.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HELP! It might have seemed a little controversial—and even ridiculous—at the time, but this protest is one of the very things that helped Lasers get to the point that it’s at now.
The Moment: In late 2007, Lupe started to throw around the R word that rappers love so much: Retirement. He said that Lasers might be his last album and that the industry was starting to wear him down.
The Reaction: Fans were immediately stunned and called for him for reconsider retiring.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HURT! Retirement is never something to throw around lightly when it comes to rap music. Say it once and go against your word and you lose a lot of your credibility if you ever try to bring it up again.
The Moment: Pro skater Terry Kennedy took issue with Lupe and his affinity for skateboarding (or, at least, his perceived affinity for skateboarding) on the Beef IV DVD in 2007.
The Reaction: They eventually patched things up, according to TK, but the controversy surrounding this incident was that at one time this was the only thing keeping Lupe’s name out there in the news.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HURT! Though Lupe didn’t cooperate with the producers of Beef IV and didn’t appear on the DVD, his name got dragged into a nonsensical beef that made him a part of something petty. And that’s never a good look.
The Moment: In February, Lupe dropped the first single from Lasers, “Words I Never Said,” featuring Skyler Gray, and took shows at President Obama, Rush Limbaugh, the war in Iraq, and a bunch of other controversial topics on the Alex Da Kid-produced record.
The Reaction: Despite the heavy content within the song, fans connected with it almost immediately and it has done well for Lupe thus far.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HELP! If nothing else, “Words I Never Said” proved that there is definitely a market for Lupe’s music.
The Moment: In May 2010, Lupe was allegedly engaged in a backstage incident with 2DopeBoyz.com co-founder/Lupe fan Shake, who pledged to stop covering Lupe shortly afterwards.
The Reaction: 2DopeBoyz as well as several other blogs stopped covering Lupe’s music and videos online.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HURT! One thing Lupe hasn’t done particularly well throughout his career—thanks to his quest to stop music piracy—is establish a good working relationship with hip-hop blogs.
The Moment: After several unauthorized tracks leaked, Lupe shut down the idea of releasing his Friend to the People mixtape last January, which was supposed to be a follow-up to 2009’s Enemy of the State: A Love Story mixtape.
The Reaction: Lupe had a good reason for canceling the idea to do the ‘tape—we don’t blame him for doing it now—but at the time, his fans were hungry for more music from him and he failed to provide. So naturally, they were upset.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HURT! The momentum that Lupe created with Enemy of the State died down and Lasers once again got a big, fat TBD slapped onto its projected release date.
The Moment: Last month, Lupe appeared on Tim Westwood’s radio show and revealed that he didn’t vote for President Obama—or any President—during the last election.
The Reaction: Amazingly, the reaction to this was pretty split. Some people agreed with the points Lupe made when he revealed that he didn’t vote (the war in Iraq seemed to be a big sticking point) while others lambasted him for sending out the wrong message to the kids who listen to his music.
Did It Help or Hurt His Career? HELP! Ultimately, Lu is getting all the attention he could ever want or need right now in the days leading up to Lasers. It’s hard to fault him for speaking his mind in order to make the most of it.