Wasalu “Lupe Fiasco” Jaco
Rapper, Record Producer, Entrepreneur, Community Advocate
Visiting Scholar 2022-2023
Professor Nick Montfort and Professor Mary Fuller, MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program
Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco, is a Chicago-born, Grammy award-winning American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and community advocate. Rising to fame in 2006, following the success of his debut album, Food & Liquor, Lupe has released more than four acclaimed studio albums; his latest being Drogas Wave (2018). His efforts to propagate conscious material helped solidify him as GQ’s Man of the Year in 2006, and garnered recognition as a Henry Crown Fellow. While musical genius and ingenuity are at the forefront of Lupe’s achievements, the artist extends his innovation to projects that aim to foster creative discourse and opportunities in underprivileged and impoverished communities.
These continued efforts to elevate community engagement can be seen through the myriad of movements he has co-founded and supported. As the co-founder and co-owner of community initiatives such as, We Are M.U.R.A.L, The Neighborhood Start-Up Fund, Society of Spoken Art, and Studio SV, Lupe Fiasco proves that he is more than just a mouthpiece for change, but a committed facilitator of intellectual community discourse and outreach.
We Are M.U.R.A.L (Magnifying Urban Realities & Affecting Lives) provides nurturing meals and winter clothing to inner-city youth, while fostering artistic and academic excellence in their respective neighborhoods. The foundation soon became the catalyst for The Neighborhood Start-up Fund, which encourages disenfranchised youth in developing entrepreneurial skills to establish businesses in underserved communities. Furthering his efforts in community engagement and mentorship, Lupe co-founded the Society of Spoken Art, which unites aspiring lyricists with established artists, who act as mentors to inspire the mastery of linguistics and semiotics. His latest effort – Studio SV – marks Lupe’s global expansion through the venture company in Hong Kong that will develop, produce and finance innovative content. In addition to various community efforts, the artist and humanitarian also sits on the advisory board for Zero Mass Water, a renewable, solar-powered initiative that seeks to democratize water. His conscious efforts to propagate social and artistic change has Lupe Fiasco’s desire to promote generational wealth and awareness continues to inspire his musical and community efforts.
Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor (2006)
Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (2007)
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 (2012)
Tetsuo & Youth (2015)
Drogas Light (2017)
Drogas Wave (2018)
Lupe Fiasco to Spend 2022-2023 at MIT, MIT Comparattive Media Studies/Writing Program (CMS/W), 24 May 2022
- “Code Cypher,” MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, 9 October 2021
- CAST Visiting Artist Lupe Fiasco: SOSA (The Society of Spoken Art), MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, 24 February 2021
As a 2020-21 Visiting Artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), Grammy award-winning rapper Lupe Fiasco came together with Professor of Digital Media Nick Montfort to engage the MIT community at the intersection of rap, computing, and activism.
Fiasco’s work as a rapper and producer is informed by his interests in cognitive science, linguistics, semiotics, and computing. During his CAST residency, he shared insights from his work as an entrepreneur and community advocate, for instance working with the Society of Spoken Art (SOSA), an educational guild for aspiring and established rappers, of which he is a co-founder.
Montfort and Fiasco lead “Code Cypher,” a programming competition for language and rhythm that engaged teams of MIT students in a one-day creative coding event in fall 2021.