28 Jun

The motivation behind this post is a conversation I had with a friend who hates gimmicks in hip-hop. I explained that any artist who is signed to a major label and getting a push is going to have a gimmick – a unique or quirky special feature that makes something “stand out” from its contemporaries. The most important thing, in my opinion, is if your gimmick is going to represent a facet of who you really are, or if it’s something that you don’t believe in at all.

Several record labels wanted to market Detroit’s Invincible as “the female Eminem.” But since her music or image wasn’t similar to his at all, she turned them down and went the indie route, in which she could express herself freely without the limitations of a record label. Everyone isn’t as brave as Invincible, though; many artists regularly compromise their beliefs and personalities with the hopes of reaching a broader audience.

I’ve been a Lupe Fiasco fan since the homie Sharifa put me onto “Kick, Push” a few years back. And one thing I’ve always liked about him is that he’s seemed to incorporate a lot of who he was not only into his music, but into his image. His gimmick is being a rapper known for being socially conscious, a skateboarder, a Muslim, and a fashion/anime nerd – and all in all, that is who he seems to really be. He’s established a loyal fan base, critical acclaim, and award nominations based on that honesty. This trailer for his upcoming album, Lasers, embodies all of this perfectly.

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