Fiasco at Convocation Center: Rapper draws a crowd at campus arena


Lupe Fiasco performs for a crowd at the NIU Convocation Center Tuesday night. Fiasco’s stop in DeKalb was part of his Lasers Tour.

By Aurora Schnorr

Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, better known as Lupe Fiasco, rocked the NIU Convocation Center Tuesday night.

The arena was packed with fans as Fiasco took the stage to perform songs from his new album Lasers. But the show wasn’t all about Lasers.

The tour marks the five-year anniversary of the breakout album Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor. The album featured artists such as Gemini, Pharrell and Jay-Z. In the time since Food & Liquor was released, Lupe Fiasco has become a household name. Hits like “Superstar” and “The Show Goes On” are what keep fans like junior accounting major Michael Hess and senior marketing major Eric Boksa coming back for more, despite a huge break between sets at the show.

“The show’s been great, but we’re in great anticipation,” Hess said.

“We’re waiting a little too long, but I’m sure the anticipation is going to be worth Lupe Fiasco…He’s the most original rapper that I know,” Boksa said.

The show’s openers included a curveball performer, Young Marqus. The 12-year-old rapper from Texas failed to impress the die-hard Lupe fans in the crowd.

“He should not be performing, but I can’t hate on the kid,” Boksa said.

The young MC put on as good of a show as one could expect from a kid who hasn’t even hit eighth grade, but NIU students weren’t shy about who they came to see. After the Chicago-based rap duo The Cool Kids played a set, the crowd got restless during a ridiculously long break.

Half-hearted chant attempts rippled through the crowd: “Lu-pe! Lu-pe!” But none quite caught on until finally, just before 10 p.m., Lupe Fiasco burst onstage with his hit “Words I Never Said.” That first song made it all worth it to the crowd of Lupe-lovers who had been waiting seemingly forever for him to take the stage.

Lupe Fiasco’s stage show was one of the most eclectic I have ever seen. His music is undeniably hip-hop, but the show felt like more arena rock than rap, with hints of jazz and a dash of old school soul. Songs like “Words I Never Said” were dramatic and intense without being cheesy, and others like “Kick, Push” were fun and got the crowd dancing.

When acts like Lupe Fiasco come to town, it’s not only good for the students that go, but for the whole town.

“I think it draws more attention to DeKalb,” said psychology research assistant Nora Kandil. “I think a lot of people look at DeKalb as a boring, small town. The university offers a lot of good programs, and having big events really draws more people from outside of DeKalb to consider the university. It’s just good publicity.”

But is having Lupe Fiasco come to DeKalb good publicity? The politically outspoken rapper said in a CBS interview, “The biggest terrorist is Obama in the United States of America.” But students think the fact that Lupe Fiasco speaks up, regardless of his views, is enough to win their affection.

“I respect him for it,” said Sierra Harland, junior mathematical science major. “He’s not afraid to say what he really thinks, and so many artists are.”

“I respect him more for commenting on things that are like that than things that don’t matter,” said elementary education major Emily McDonald.

Regardless of the openers, Lupe’s politics, or his talent, I do have one criticism of the concert. There was an appalling lack of lasers!

For a tour based on an album named lasers, I was just hoping the light show would be a little more creative than colored spotlights and a series of blinding strobe lights.