GQ & Guess Party with Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco’s long-forthcoming album might be a bit uneven, but no one can question the unmistakable fact that Fiasco can rap. Very well. And in a rap universe dominated by crack-rap and faux-gangsterism, Fiasco’s entrance into the game is unquestionably a good thing.

In that vein, his live show bears many similarities to his album, loaded with talent and charisma, but very clearly the portrait of a still-developing artist with certain things left to learn. In a 30-minute set delivered on the rooftop of the Peterson Automotive Museum (well-known for being the place where Biggie was shot), Fiasco performed a solid but unspectacular set. To his defense, the crowd, which included Shawn Wayans, Jermaine Dupri, and Travis Barker, there for the GQ/Guess party seemed to be mostly people there for the free drinks and hors d’oeuvres, rather than hip-hop devotees. However, it was only when Fiasco performed his finale, the hit “Kick Push,” that the audience came alive and got into his performance.

Coming out with just one hype man and a DJ, Fiasco displayed ample confidence and rapping skill. However, at times his breath control seemed to waver and the backing track was heard clear in the background. But when push comes to shove, it comes back to the unmistakable fact of talent, and Fiasco has that in spades. Despite the fact that his set showed a lack of focus and he and his hypeman were prone to endlessly proclaiming their greatness, Fiasco always quickly made up for it, by displaying his intricate rhyme schemes, strong lyrics, and distinctive flow. Though it might not have been the most electrifying performance anyone had ever seen, Fiasco flashed enough potential to lead one to think that he may turn out to be a rapper for the ages.

Whether Fiasco will realize his enormous potential remains anyone’s guess. The rap game is notorious for one-album wonders. Two albums in hip-hop is a career. Three albums and you’re a veteran. The road to hip-hop immortality will be long for Fiasco. But out of any of the new rappers to emerge in the past few years, Fiasco’s future seems the brightest.

Reported by Jeff Weiss in Los Angeles