By AARON RICHARDSON
A tense crowd in Dodd Auditorium chants “Lupe, Lupe, Lupe” as more than 1,000 Mary Washington students and a few guests awaited the appearance of Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco. At last, 20 minutes after the 9 p.m. advertised show time, Lupe Fiasco blasted onto the stage. With only himself, a back-up MC, and a DJ, Fiasco played for 90 minutes without a break.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, having only been to one small hip-hop show before. Would Fiasco rest on his laurels and use UMW as a much-needed break from a busy tour schedule, or would he give our small theater his all? Lupe didn’t fail to impress, showing UMW a fantastically energetic show, despite a barrier between the crowd and the stage.
The show included most of the material from both of Fiasco’s hit albums, “Food and Liquor” and “The Cool.” Like any good performer, Fiasco waited until near the end of the show to break out “Superstar,” the first single off of “The Cool.” Regardless of how well known each particular song was, Fiasco gave them his all.
Towards the middle of his set, Fiasco called out “Where are all my ladies at?” At Mary Washington, he didn’t need to ask twice. As the female contingent went crazy, Fiasco surveyed the crowd. Then, pointing, he said, “DJ, can you give this lovely young lady a beat to dance to?”
For the next few minutes, Fiasco rapped to female members of the audience, pausing the beat every few bars to find a new person to serenade.
Beyond Fiasco’s stellar performance, the structure and set-up of the show had all the hallmarks of a professional tour. The set list was down pat by this point, each transition was orchestrated with rehearsed segues from song to song. Fiasco saved hits like “Kick Push” and “Superstar” until close to the end of his performance. Then, like a superstar, he thanked all of his “beautiful fans,” without whom “there is no Lupe Fiasco.”
Fiasco played one rehearsed encore after the initial set was over, and then the lights came on to keep the show at a reasonable length.
Crowd response to Fiasco was on the verge of out of control. Kids stood on their chairs, pushed to the front of the auditorium and rapped along to every song. As Giant staff and Campus Police tried to keep people from standing on their chairs, the crowd was in a state of hip-hop and alcohol-induced bliss.
“It was refreshing to see such a talented lyricist perform,” said freshman Katey Kerns.
To bring Fiasco to Mary Washington, Giant spent about $25,000, not including lighting and sound expenses. The show cost students $10 per ticket, a bargain considering that a t- shirt at any other show would cost twice that. For non-students, tickets were $20, but non-UMW community members had to be accompanied bya student.