Lupe Fiasco On Food & Liquor II, Vintage Shopping, & Election Day

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1 Even though we take some argument with the claim that Chicago is the "best city in the whole, wide world," we count ourselves as some of Lupe Fiasco's biggest non-midwestern fans. Not only does the hip-hop star rap about some seriously heavy (in a good way!) stuff, but he can put on one amazingly rockin' concert (shout-out to the Lasers tour!).

And, this artist knows how to give back to his fans in a big way — Lupe teamed up with the Samsung Galaxy SIII to turn his album release party into one big, proverbial thank-you card. He invited his biggest followers and most devoted fans to join in on a night of tunes, all in the name of Food & Liquor II, the rapper's newest album. We got a chance to visit with Lupe before he took the stage, and we got the the inside scoop on the album — and, of course, his favorite stores in NYC.

You named this album Food & Liquor II, after your debut album Food & Liquor. What was the significance of that?
"There wasn't really a thought process; it wasn't actually too thought out. It was just something I thought sounded like nice — just the way you put flowers in your house, you just think it feels nice. But, the core of that [debut] album was food and liquor, which means the good and the bad, human nature and duality, where we do good things and then we do terrible things. So, it's [the new album] still impressing that point, but the core of it is The Great American Rap Album. That was the real concept and the meat of it."

What are you particularly proud of with this album that you haven't done yet on previous albums?
"I think I'm getting better at balancing commercial sounds, modern musical sounds, with my message — you know with the abrasiveness or the harshness of my social commentary. Or, you know, taking all of that stuff off the table, and just focusing on the way I rap, the way I flow, and lyrically finding that balance."

Who is your dream artist to team up with for a musical collaboration?
"Oh man, I definitely want to work with Thom Yorke, and I definitely want to work with Damien Marley."

You're well known for your very unique sense of style; what's on the horizon for you as far as a fashion line or collaboration?
"Well, right now, I have a clothing line called Trilly & Truly, and I've done some collaborations with Reebok, and I did some stuff with Vans that's going to be out in a few months, which is really awesome. And, I just love being a student of the industry. I just sat down for six hours talking to Vivienne Westwood, getting some education from her. I love talking to my friends who have clothing companies, from T-shirt lines to full formal and dress wear. I'm more of an innocent bystander who's interested in it."

When you're in New York, where do you like to shop?
"The Barneys here is really good. The buyer there is really awesome. Jeffrey is good, and when I do my street wear stuff, I go to Fight Club. When I'm more into vintage, I love secondhand stores. What Goes Around Comes Around is great."

What about when you're in Chicago?
"Oh man, George Green on Oak Street is awesome. The Barneys there is good, too, and RSVP Gallery is really good. I used to sell stuff from my line out of there."

What would you say is your favorite tour stop?
"It's Australia, definitely Australia. Australia is fun. They're always happy, they've got great food, good people, and each city has their own special thing."

Who in the music world do you look up to the most?
"Mos Def is definitely one of my favorites. Damien Marley, or anyone with the nuts to get on stage and spit that truth, or spit that liberation is awesome. I'm trying to be like those guys."

You're always vocal about what's going on in the world and in politics, so what is one thing you want our youth to remember come election day?
"The day after [election day]. You know, they should remember that after that day, everything they've been doing should continue. And I think that's what the political parties and the people who actually encourage these campaigns want.... They want people to be active not only on that day but the day after. Once you contribute by voting, pitch in by doing something the next day, and the next day. But instead of it being a vote, volunteer for something, tutor someone, help someone across the street."

Photo: Andrew Walker and Don Bowers/Getty Images