Feb. 13 2009 12:00 AM

Lupe Fiasco wows at MSU

Courtesy Atlantic Records
As expected, as soon as the lights were dimmed Thursday night at the Michigan State University Auditorium, funny cigarettes were lit up. Following self-proclaimed stoner Asher Roth’s opening performance, plumes of smoke mingled with the too familiar scent (right, Michael Phelps?) of marijuana.

But later, Lupe Fiasco, 26, whose real name is Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, took the stage to a dramatically fuller venue than Roth, with blinding neon lights decorating the stage, reminiscent of a Kanye West show. Fiasco kept it simple, performing a rapper’s “acoustic” set consisting of two turntables mastered by DJ Simon Says and two rappers with Bishop G accompanying Fiasco on the mic.

Although there wasn’t much direct interaction between Fiasco and the audience, that’s not to say there wasn’t chemistry or a major connection between the artist and his fans. The crowd exploded after Fiasco gave his reason for loving what he does.

“Hip-hop saved my life!” he said as he began to perform his song of the same name.

Despite a few technical difficulties with the microphones during “I Gotcha” from Lupe Fiasco’s “Food & Liquor” (“you know, shit happens!” he responded to the glitches) the show took off fast and didn’t stop until it was forced to after the encore, despite the crowd chanting “Lupe!” and wanting more from the Chicago-based rapper.

A few highlights from the show, not including Fiasco’s performance of his major hits and distinct dance moves, was his remix of N.E.R.D’s “Everyone Nose” followed by a freestyle over Kanye West’s “Touch The Sky” before doing the “quintessential hip-hop freestyle” for which he asked DJ Simon Says for “some weird techno shit.” Bishop G especially killed it, displaying his raw talent and skill as a rapper.

Before performing his final, and probably most recognizable song, “Superstar” from “The Cool,” he dedicated the song to everyone who supports, has supported or will pledge his or her support to Fiasco in the future. At one of the most intimate moments of the show, Fiasco admited that he tries to be a cool guy, make good music and have some sort of fashion sense. He said he tries to educate as well as entertain and really appreciated the support he received.

He concluded the show with, “I may seem like ‘the man’ but the real shit starts out there,” pointing to the crowd before everyone joined him in singing.

Set List:
"The Instrumental"
"Hip-Hop Saved My Life"
"I Gotcha"
"Kick, Push"
"Everyone Nose" (N.E.R.D. Remix)
"Touch The Sky" (Kanye West Remix/Freestyle)
“Quintessential Hip-Hop Freestyle”
"Go Go Gadget Flow"
"Dumb It Down"
"Little Weapon"
"Streets On Fire"
"Paris, Tokyo"