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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Fresh Beatz: John West and Lupe Fiasco

    The first artist I’d like to mention is John West, who is an up and coming artist in the jazz/pop/soul scene, influenced by his southern upbringing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He grew up honing his skills as a member of his school and church choir. In addition, his large family, consisting of four older siblings, helped contribute to the development of his musical talents from an early age, molding the unique sound he has today.

    His style brings together influences from the past, with artists like Otis Redding, Cat Stevens, Gil Scott-Heron, as well as the present, with contemporaries like Jill Scott, Jack Johnson, and others. He can play both the piano and guitar, and he tends to incorporate them together in all of his songs.

    His new LP, his first official CD release, has a number of quality songs that follow a direction similar to other guitar toting artists like John Mayer and Jack Johnson, in that he has a few sappy melodies about past loves. However, he spins it well, as we discover in songs like ‘Masquerade’ and ‘Thought I Was.’

    ‘Masquerade,’ is a smooth sounding tune about a relationship gone south, with lines like ‘Entertain we say with much impatience/But ticket price we pay/Aint all we lose along the way.’ These lyrics seem to have a deeper meaning than most songs about relationships, and like his other tracks, both the sound and the lyrics have quality.

    In ‘Katrina,’ he speaks of the struggle that his people- from Louisiana and the South- have dealt with and the spirit they had in the face of tragedy. Although it may not be as pleasing to listen to as his other tracks, it certainly carries a lot of meaning and purpose, qualities that are often missing in today’s popular music.

    A little more upbeat is the song ‘Gravity,’ which has in addition to his vocals and guitar, notably common to every song, a piano and bass guitar that drive the beat and make it groove. This is the best song of the collection, as it has the most dynamic sound, even if it does get to be lengthy and repetitive toward the end. Finally, one should also check out ‘Loved You Tonight,’ another upbeat song that somewhat follows the generic love song approach.

    You can check out John West online for free and it’s completely legal, believe it or not. Go to either or his Myspace page at If you like him enough, you can send him a message and tell him yourself.

    He gets a rating of 4 on a scale of 5.

    Not a bad deal.

    Chicago has been home to a number of successful artists past and present, such as Buddy Guy, Fall Out Boy, Rise Against, Common and Kanye West (a dishonorable mention here for R. Kelly), but now a lot of buzz has been surrounding the fresh sound of Lupe Fiasco.

    A budding star in his own right,he brings together a unique style that emulates the current, successful artists in hip hop today like Pharrell, Jay Z and of course, Kanye. His lyrical choice is different (and a breath of fresh air) from today’s played out odes to rims, money, and women, where he talks about the death of his grandmother, his life growing up and even has a song dedicated to skateboarding.

    The first track is titled ‘Dedicated,’ a quality song put together by thisyoung artist. The lyrics flow together well with the chorus and the beat. This song is ‘dedicated’ to the woman who raised him as a young boy growingup in’ Chicago. ‘Forever my lady/Forever your baby/ Been down since you made me,’ are lines that show the appreciation he has for his upbringing.

    The track getting the most burn online now, however, is the song ‘Kick, Push.’ Like ‘Dedicated,’ the title is straight forward and tells us what the song is about. In this case, Lupe is rapping about skateboarding and its culture.

    The second version (titled ‘Kick Push II’) presents us, through’ lyrics,’ with a deeper meaning. This song is probably the best at explaining why he loves skateboarding. It is an escape for kids who don’t have much to turn to. ‘A traveling band of misfits and outcasts/ Knock their heads from Misfits to Outkast/ A lot of scars, they did this without pads/ A lot of hearts, who did this without dads,’ shows us just this.’ ‘

    Another song, ‘Daydreaming,’ is set to an old Billy Holiday chorus, where he rhymes about writer’s block and finding something to put on paper. It’s poetry to a beat, which sometimes doesn’t fit together well,’ but Lupe delivers here, once again.

    He has several videos online, and he is even on with Common, showing a tour of his hometown Chicago. He is not your ordinary rapper, and is highly respected by his peers (Jay Z even told a group of record executives that Lupe’s talent was similar to his own a couple years back).

    On his own website (, it mentions that
    his father was a prolific African drummer and his mother was a world traveler. He says’ about his family, ‘We were always around different cultures. It is because of these artistic experiences [that] there are no limitations to what I talk about on my record.’

    Lupe Fiasco is a name we will be hearing about in the near future, especially with his debut album Food & Liquor hitting stores just recently. You can check him out at’’ and at

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