Leave it to Lupe Fiasco to find a diamond in the rough that is the Twitter wilderness. During quarantine, Florida producer Kaelin Ellis whipped up a few tracks and shared them through tweets. Someone tagged Lupe in a reply, Lu heard it, and ran with it. What happened next was Lupe and Ellis working together on an EP, the to-be-released HOUSE. This week, we got a taste of things to come from the collaboration with the release of “SHOES.”
“SHOES” starts off with Lupe discussing the mystique of sneaker culture before jumping headfirst into racial injustice in a way we’d expect from Fiasco. Rapid thoughts paint a picture of a world that is unjust, but one that can ultimately heal–with the right pair of (proverbial) shoes worn by the right set of people. In other words, Fiasco takes the “walk a mile in another’s shoes” mindset, stretches it as far as it’ll go, and calls for a change. Like much of Lupe’s work, he doesn’t dumb the concept down, but still makes it palatable for those on the outside looking in at the problem. Think “Gotta Eat” from The Cool but with shoe culture replacing burgers for the meat of the conversation.
“SHOES” also features designer Virgil Abloh speaking about designing a shoe for murder victim Ahmaud Arbery. This hypothetical design session culminates with a deep dive into the resiliency of Black people. While Black people encounter strife and anguish on a regular basis, we should be free to live as we wish. No one has the right to take that away from us. Even in and even with our pain, we still have the right to freedom and we’re tougher than any racist ideology. We are all connected, even those Black people who feel privileged, and it is up to us to continue on our path of unity and interconnectivity. While Abloh has been a lightning rod for controversy over the years, his heart and mind are in the right place on “SHOES.”
HOUSE drops next Friday and, if “SHOES” is any indication, we’re in for vintage Lupe bars over new soundscapes. Check out “SHOES” above and remember to support dope music in all its forms.