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Friday, Sept. 5, 2008

PantherFest

Tonight @ the Marcus Amphitheater - 8 p.m.

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Though he introduced himself as a geeky, skateboarding rapper with an affinity for Japanese pop culture—to be sure, a meme completely new to rap music—Lupe Fiasco has smartly fought against being pigeonholed in the years since, revealing himself to be more ambitious than anyone could have expected. His sophomore album, The Cool, is written around a mythology nearly as dense as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and though it’s thematically confounding, it’s packed with triumphant arrangements and oversized pop hooks that complement Lupe’s slippery, focused storytelling. Tonight’s PantherFest, a UW-Milwaukee-sponsored concert open to non students as well, pairs Lupe with piano-rockers Jack’s Mannequin, a combination that would seem more unusual if the two otherwise very different acts didn’t share a common understanding of how the pop charts work, and a common drive to climb them. PantherFest begins at 8 p.m. at the Marcus Amphitheater.