Hip-hop needs to connect the reality of the street to the history of the world. That’s a tall order, isn’t it? Finding the universal truths in the individual doings of an economic class, connecting what’s happening now to what has happened, knowing your history so that you might change your future, and making it all rhyme, and groove, and move. No wonder so much modern hip-hop doesn’t bother, instead focusing on the obvious, and leaving the context out of the equation.
Which is why an artist like Lupe Fiasco stands out from the contemporary hip-hop crowd. The man has spent his career crafting masterful cross-pollinations that stretch the envelope sonically and lyrically, while keeping things good and funky, with a firm grasp on the old school, and a keen eye for the new one. One of the great hip-hop intellectuals of the past decade, Fiasco connects the language of rap to the linguistics of Noam Chomsky. He knows his history, he knows his place in it and he would like it known that he would prefer to decide that place for himself, thank you very much. Positive, forward-looking, clear-eyed, highly intelligent, exuberant, creative – Fiasco’s music sets the bar by which all of his hip-hop peers must be measured.
Fiasco is preparing to drop a new album, “Tetsuo & Youth,” in early 2014, and he’s mounted a brief tour to share some of this new music. Happily, that limited run includes a stop at 7 p.m. Friday in the Rapids Theatre (1711 Main St., Niagara Falls). Tickets for “The Tetsuo & Youth Preview Party with guest Mickey Factz” are $35-$40 (box office, www.ticketfly.com).
– Jeff Miers