Lupe Fiasco on his project, upcoming MIT course, and subverting the listeners’ expectations
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“Rappers Don’t Fall Off”: Lupe Fiasco on Aging in Hip-Hop, Drill Music, and the Audience
By Paul Thompson, 2 August 2022
There is a video on MIT’s website of Lupe Fiasco, the Chicago rapper famous for self-consciously multilayered songwriting and motifs that span multiple albums across many years, explaining the premise of Code Cypher, a one-day “programming competition for language and rhythm” that he cohosted as a visiting artist at the school in the fall 2021. “A cypher has multiple meanings,” says Lupe, now 40, bits of gray hair poking out from under a backward baseball cap. “Decoding something, encoding something, sending secret messages—hiding messages within other messages.” Computer science majors in surgical masks rap about pandemic loneliness; electrical engineers show off data sets that allegedly predict chord progression.
This school year, Lupe is returning to MIT as part of its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars Program, which will see him teach a course on rap that he says will trace the relationship between the form and scientific disciplines like astrophysics and evolutionary biology.