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FFF Fest review: Highs and lows with Lupe Fiasco

Deborah Sengupta

Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 9, 2013

Lupe Fiasco is one of the most intelligent rappers working today with an unrelenting intensity that’s both awe inspiring and a bit terrifying, which makes the way his Fun Fun Fun set fell apart Friday extra disappointing.

It started with enormous promise. Shrouded with smoke Fiasco took the stage clad in a black jacket emblazoned with a skull and crossbones to the opening strains of “ITAL (Roses)” off his latest release “Food and Liquor” pt 2. Twisting lyrics like a genius, dissuading young gang bangers in one breath exalting ladies with the next, he brought a blast of sheer positivity – the kind that can instantaneously restore a lady’s faith in hip-hop 900,000 b**ches and hoes later. He smoked forward from there. Hands were raised, spirits were high. As he tore through his third track “Lamborghini Angels” it began to feel like a beautiful night for hip-hop in Austin.

Then, as an unexpected light rain blew across Auditorium Shores, it started to come apart. The stage went dark. There was a long awkward pause. People were confused. The outskirts of the crowd scattered but the bulk in the middle stood strong. A tent was erected to shelter the sound board. More time passed.

Then it was back on.

Fiasco charged onstage. “I apologize for the delay,” he said, “obviously it’s the (expletive) torrential downpour none of us knew about.” He launched into “Around My Way” and right as he finished the first chorus he lost it.

“Stay the (expletive) off my stage,” he raged at stage right. “If someone else gets on my stage they’re getting (expletive) up.”

In a testament to his artistry a good portion of the crowd cheered, lambasting the perceived disrespect. He started the track over and pulled a solid performance but he was clearly agitated.

“Where the ladies at?” he called at the end of the song. The ladies cheered.

“I said, where the ladies at?” he said. The ladies cheered again.

“Well (expletive) that then,” he said, abandoning plans to honor the ladies and calling out a track number to a sound crew who seemed confused.

He threw down a solid rendition of “Kick, Push” the skater anthem off his 2006 which seemed like a perfect Fun Fest track. He followed it up with “Superstar” his earliest breakthrough hit. He sounded fantastic but it ended abruptly.

“That seems like a good place to end this,” Fiasco announced. Unceremoniously, he put down his mic and left the stage 20 minutes early. And that was that.