Lupe Fiasco Talks Japanese Cartoon, Lasers and Food & Liquor II to Complex Mag

In an interview with Complex, Lupe Fiasco talks about the uncertainty around the releases of Lasers and Food & Liquor II and explains that he initially denied being part of little-known alternative group Japanese Cartoon:

Like Saigon’s Greatest Story Never Told, Chamillionaire’s Venom, and countless other albums before it, Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers is currently in major label limbo. Originally slated for release in late 2009, the past year has seen Lasers go from being delayed by the artist, to pushed back by the label, to “Is that shit ever going to come out?” status. Never one to sit around, Lupe got busy and started Japanese Cartoon—a punk rock group consisting of Wasalu Muhammad Jaco (Lupe’s real name), Graham Burris (Bass), Le Messie (production), and Matt Nelson (Keyboards). They even dropped a free EP titled In The Jaws of The Lords of Death this past July. But still, what about Lasers? We got on the horn with the Chicago-bred lyricist to get his side of the story on his long delayed album, what inspired him to make punk rock, and what his definition of success is.


Complex: A number of songs have been out from you in the past 12 months like “I’m Beaming,” “Shining Down,” and “What You Want.” Are those songs from Lasers or The Great American Rap Album?

Lupe Fiasco: Everything that has leaked between “Paris, Tokyo” and “Go To Sleep” was for Lasers. “Go To Sleep” is Food and Liquor II. [It was released] simply because I was in the position where I wanted to put out some music. Nothing was officially released off Lasers. Nothing. Not “Shining Down,” not “What You Want,” not “I’m Beaming.” Everything that came off of Lasers was leaked or stolen. We didn’t put out anything. The reason the songs are iTunes and we shot videos for them is because we felt like we’re going to lose these records. It’s like we paid $80,000 to $120,000 dollars for this record. If we gonna pay that much we might as well follow though instead of letting it get lost on the Internet. Our hands were forced.

We felt like half the album is out in the midst of finishing it. So it’s like, we’re not feeling to put out any records. For what? A record to beat the record we already got out? It doesn’t make any sense. If the record leaked, then we’re going to chase it. I’m not happy about it, but so be it. In the midst of all that you get this stalemate with the record company. And it’s like, “Well I got to do something.”

So out of desperation, you get “Go To Sleep,” which is a record from the next record. Lasers is its own project, it is its own sound, its own mood. Food and Liquor II is completely different. So I don’t want to keep just dropping records. To be honest with you, if I could just stop I would stop. If I could just stop and let everything clear the air and let everything settle, then I would literally stop. But it’s just my movement has so much momentum and it’s so self-fulfilling sometimes that even when I do stop, it keeps going on without me.

Complex: Are you now actively pursuing the release of Food and Liquor II?

Lupe Fiasco: Nah. People were saying they wanted a Lupe record, so here’s a Lupe record, from me, not some dude leaking it. Like, “Here’s a good, solid, Lupe Fiasco record that’s official and that’s from me, that I like, that you’ll like, and I’m gonna shoot a video for.” You can treat it as an underground record, as a mixtape record, as a no-single, as a first single. I don’t really care. I’m not trying to dictate what I want that song to be. But it’s my first act of control in the last two and a half years.

Just to summarize, Lasers has been done for two and a half years. I started on another album after that, with features on it and all types of craziness. But everything was supposed to be in time. What messed up the schedule when Lasers didn’t come out when it was supposed to. So you get this backlog. And then Lasers kinda prematurely leaked out because of all these songs leaking. It’s kind of like an unclear moment of what Lupe Fiasco album-wise is going to be. So I would just say stay tuned. Don’t believe anything unless I tell you. Please don’t believe anything anybody says unless I say it from my official Twitter page or my official UStream page. I’m like one of three people who actually know what’s going on. In the meantime, we’re going back on tour. We’ll see you guys out there on stage. There might a Japanese Cartoon tour coming up too.

Complex: But don’t you want to release Lasers? You made the album because you wanted to make it, right?

Lupe Fiasco: To be 100% honest, if it comes out, it comes out, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s not going to affect me either way. That doesn’t mean I don’t like hip-hop, that don’t mean I don’t want to be a rapper. It just means that I know what everybody else doesn’t know about that album. I know the dark side of that album. Nobody else knows the story. It’s a dark, deep, twisted, nasty story that people lost their jobs for.

It’s like Lasers, that’s one album that got disrupted in the business process. It’s a great album, but that album may not come out. But here’s Food and Liquor II. So what’s going to make you happy? What’s truly going to make the people happy? I’m giving you another album. I’m already past it. I’m not sitting around, “Oh man, I want Lasers. Why don’t they put out my songs?” Crying. For what? You go in and put out another record. And that’s what I did.

If God wills it to be, we’ll be talking about Food and Liquor II. And if Food and Liquor II doesn’t come out, we’ll be talking about Food and Liquor III. [Laughs.] If Food and Liquor III doesn’t come out, we’ll be talking about Food and Liquor IV. If that doesn’t come out, we’ll put out The Cool II, The Cool III. I’m never going to stop.

I love music. I’m never going to stop making music. I just did a whole punk rock album. So when the business overshadows the music, then I’m done. And I’ma step away from that, which is what happened to Lasers. All people see is music. It’s a music business. The music is beautiful and great. I love to perform it, and I love to go around the world, and I love to sing it and say it. But I hate to pick up my phone when I get off stage to talk about the music business!

I hate to be looked at as the villain. I can’t control my perception to the public but I try not to be a villain. My greatest fault is that I refuse to backbite others and put others on front street to the public. Because if I did that, I would be justified and vindicated with everything that I’m saying. But I’ll be doing myself a personal injustice in something I don’t believe in. If somebody wants to come to the plate and talk about the stuff that they’re doing behind the scenes as to why XYZ isn’t happening, then so be it. But I’m not going to put people on front street. That’s why I don’t do dis records or any stupidness like that. I’d rather to talk to somebody personally, and if they still motivated enough to tell the public what’s going, then so be it. If not, then I’ll take the L, publicly. And I don’t mind taking the L. I don’t really care.

Read the full interview HERE

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