Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Kirklandd – Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor
I think we all have that one record that snuck up on us and totally changed our perspective on music. When I was 12 years old, my greatest point of musical influence was my cousin. He was an RnB singer and dancer, at the time touring with Jason Derulo and Flo Rida. One day, he took me in to a JB Hi-fi to go browsing. We walked the isles for a minute and he stopped, picked up a CD, handed it to me, and boldly told me this record was going to change everything.
That record was Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor, his first ever studio album.
Being 12, the only hip-hop I’d really listened to up until this point was confined to Chingy, Nelly, Ying Yang Twins and Diddy. All of these artists were defined by materialism; girls, cars and money. Of course, as a young kid, I vibed it heavily, gleefully thinking that’s all hip-hop was capable of.
Then, along came Lupe. Intricate lyrics, soaring production and scintillating wordplay were made apparent from the first track. For the first time, my eyes were open to a beautiful world of abstract, creative and poetic hip-hop.
His storytelling ranged from a kid learning to skate (‘Kick Push’), a man enslaved by his television (‘The Instrumental’ – which contains 7 different meanings) and ‘He Say She Say’, a song written from the eyes of a child navigating his parents’ divorce.
The stories he chose to tell are what struck a chord with me. There was something so innately honest in the child’s observation of his mother in the divorce that I knew Lupe had experienced this himself in a past time. Dealing with similar hurdles myself at the time, it was the first time music had offered me true perspective on my problems.
I’ve since listened to that record every year since I was a kid – studying, researching, absorbing its meanings and what propelled Lupe’s distinct artistic direction.
I dug up an interview of Lupe right after the album came out. He was discussing Jay Z’s advice to him before releasing the project: “Don’t chase radio”, he told Lupe, “Don’t chase the status quo. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. If you’re this weird, nerdy guy with all these idiosyncrasies, do that. People will start gravitating towards you because you’re different.”
That advice to me sums up the entire record. I still haven’t heard anything like it. Very few artists have followed its vein of true storytelling and creativity, curating songs with multiple meanings, and challenging the status quo every step of the way.
It’s something I aspire to now with everything I create.
Thank you Lupe.
Canberra hip-hop producer Kirklandd’s powerful and dramatic new single ‘Impulse’ feat. Zellow is out now! Listen below.