Lupe Fiasco Explains ‘Lasers’ Delay, Blames Atlantic Records

By Alvin Blanco

Lupe Fiasco has taken Atlantic Records to task. While speaking at The Second Regional Academic and Cultural Collaborative in Dayton, OH, the Chicago MC told the audience what he feels led to the stalemate with his recording home that has left his third album, Lasers, without a release date.

In a three minute video of the speech Fiasco describes Atlantic’s rationale in asking him to revise his recording contract.

“There’s something called a 360 deal which entails that they get 25% of any ancillary properties that you do that come from your music,” said Fiasco. “So if I’m famous because of a song and that leads me to get a TV show or a sneaker, they think that they deserve 25% of that. I refuse to do that.”

Fiasco squarely put the blame on his lack of promotion because of his refusal to sign the 360 deal he described. With revenue from album sales falling, and considering Fiasco has already scored endorsement deals with Reebok and Hewlett-Packard, and also tours extensively, Atlantic Records wanted in on the action. The Chi-Town rapper believes that in retaliation for not signing on the dotted line, Atlantic didn’t bother promoting his singles “Shining Down” and “I’m Beamin.”

“I was told because you didn’t sign this 360 deal, we may or may not push your record,” said Fiasco, before adding, “The reason that there is a video for ‘Beaming’ is because I shot it, with my own money. The only reason that it’s on MTV is because I have friends at MTV that said ‘Lupe we’re going to play your video…’ ”

Fiasco also expressed disdain at the label (“The record company should not be artists,” he said.) for constantly sending him pre-packaged songs which they felt would be no. 1 hits—and in turn bump album sales—if he were to record them. However, when he finally conceded and recorded such a song, Atlantic still was not satisfied, re-recording its own pre-made hook 60 times, according to Fiasco.

But the most damning revelation may be when Fiasco recounted that Atlantic told him that they though he was “wack.” Needless to say, Fiasco’s legion of fans, a number of which took offense to MTV RapFix’s “What Happened?” story and who will be picketing Atlantic on October 15 for the release of Lasers, will beg to differ.

“It’s good to see that there’s an artist who’s not willing to sell his soul to a label (that’s what you do when you sign a 360 deal—it’s modern day slavery) and water down his music to have a project released,” says SeanTheRobot, founder of the LupEND blog. “That’s why his fans love him so much; he stays true to himself, his fans, his music and his beliefs. A lot of other artists would have just taken the easy route and would have signed that deal. I don’t know if what he said will affect the release of the Lasers album but Atlantic would be stupid if they wouldn’t pick up all the hype and attention the Fiasco Friday rally has already created. It’s almost like Lupe’s fans got him more media exposure within the last three weeks than his label did in the last two years.”

For the moment, the fate of Lasers is still in Atlantic’s hands.

“The truth of the matter is that I’m at the mercy of powers that be… who don’t know if they want to be a record company or a management company or a production company,” said Fiasco in closing.

Can we get some conflict resolution?