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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lupe Fiasco

Tonight @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, Summerfest, 10 p.m.

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If the predominant narrative of rap's first 20 years was the genre's rise to prominence and respectability, then the story of the last decade has been about how the genre has responded to that status. This is a story that plays out at the individual level, with each rapper coping differently. Some have embraced fame and all of its privileges; others have struggled to reconcile the trade-offs of fame with their values. Few of them have struggled more than Lupe Fiasco, the Chicago rapper who emerged as a principled alternative to more conventional rap stars in the mid-'00s. When his label pressured him to commercialize his sound on his third album, 2011's Lasers, he resisted at first, insisting the disc would be his most political yet, but he eventually acquiesced, recording the Modest Mouse-sampling hit “The Show Goes On.” The resulting album is an odd compromise, divided between unabashed, crowd-pleasing pop songs and resentful political sermons. The album's commercial success probably gives Lupe more creative control over his next album, but how he'll use it is anybody's guess.