Lupe Fiasco played his last show of the year, and luckily for his Bay Area fanbase, the Grammy-winning Chicago rapper chose The UC Theatre in Berkeley to close out his tour. The newish music venue on University Avenue operated by the nonprofit Berkeley Music Group could not have been a better choice for Fiasco’s show.
With six albums under his belt, Fiasco had plenty of songs to choose from. "Dopamine Lit," off his sixth release, DROGAS Light
, set the tone for this stellar night in Berkeley: This is ain't the kind of rap the opps and the thots like/Told Trak put the bat back on the spotlight.
You could hear the audience chanting the lyrics of the song in a harmonious chorus, from the front of the stage all the way to the back of the venue.
Fiasco’s fans span generations, from pre-teens who are too young to remember his first album, Food & Liquor
, to those in their late 30s and older who do remember that his debut album earned him three Grammy nominations, with the song "Daydreamin’"
winning Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the 50th Grammy Awards. This song, as well as "Kick, Push" were both part of the night’s setlist.
Fiasco's charisma on stage and quick freestyle flow are what make him one of the best lyricists of our generation. He joins the ranks of elite artists out of Chicago, including Da Brat, Common, Kanye West, Twista, Jeremih, and many others.
All throughout the show, Fiasco interacted with the crowd, and the fans loved him for it. During a portion of the show, he did a medley of songs, pointing out how certain songs resonate more with specific racial groups. “I have been doing this for a long time; I can tell what white people like, what Blacks and Browns like.” Songs like "Battle Scars" and "Superstar" resonate more with his white audience, while heavier tracks like “Around My Way [Freedom Ain’t Free],” “Paris, Tokyo,” “Jump,” and “Mural” resonate more with his Black and Brown fans.
There were also sporadic freestyles, and no Bay Area show is complete without paying homage to the heavy-hitters of the local music scene — Mac Dre and Too $hort. Fiasco used the “Blow the Whistle” beat for one of his freestyles.
Fiasco’s night in Berkeley was spectacular, and his fans agreed. Like one of his hit song says: Grind might feel like murder/But hip-hop, you saved my life.