It seems like Lupe Fiasco has spent the majority of the last ten years in a perpetual war with Atlantic Records. Since dropping 2007’s universally acclaimed The Cool , Lupe Fiasco has not seen eye to eye with Atlantic, and his subsequent releases have reflected that. On this past weekend’s episode of “The Breakdown,” Justin Hunte got on the phone with Lupe Fiasco’s mentor Charles “Chilly” Patton, currently serving 42 years in prison on heroin charges, to discuss the story behind Lupe’s deal with Atlantic. Chilly is closely aligned with Jay Z , Kanye West ,and Pharrell .
As Chilly’s story goes, Jay Z was the reason Lupe signed with Atlantic Records in the first place. Hov apparently convinced the Chicago rapper to do so because he thought he was going to become a high level administrator over at Atlantic. Here’s a quote from Chilly:
“This is how it went. I’ll never forget it. Jay Z hit me like, ‘Yo, I’m coming to Atlantic Records. I’m going to to be the president of Atlantic Records.’ LA Reid was my man. I introduced LA Reid to Jay Z. That’s how they got tight. So Jay’s like, ‘I’m coming to Atlantic. I need you and Lupe over at Atlantic with me.’ I’m like, ‘cool.’ I’m thinking Jay’s coming to Atlantic so I do the deal.”
According to Chilly, the situation with Atlantic was immediately negative, with the label apparently disliking every song on Lupe’s classic album Food & Liquor . Lupe Fiasco is a unique and pure artist, and Atlantic Records prides themselves on the assembly line methodology of producing pop music. They’re clearly an unfit match. Chilly allegedly paid our of his own pocket to promote Lupe’s breakout single “Kick Push” because Atlantic wasn’t feeling it. To make matters worse, as many of you already know, Jay Z never took the gig at Atlantic, but instead became President of Def Jam. Here’s what Chilly says about that:
“When I get out [of jail], Jay hit me — I’ll never forget it — at two in the morning like, ‘yo, LA [Reid] hit me [and offered me the presidency of Def Jam]. I’ll give you your masters, I’ll give you this, I’ll give you this.’ It was a courtesy call on some brother shit, but really he was telling me he wasn’t coming to Atlantic.
I’m like, ‘n*gga, you’d be stupid not to fvck with LA. This n*gga is giving you your masters back. This n*gga’s making you president’ … The whole shit with him and Dame was crumbling. I’m like, ‘yo, n*gga, you finna be that n*gga. I’m not salty.’ We cool because I could’ve went with anybody.”
Did this shed some light on industry politics for you? Man it’s rough out here. God speed, Lupe Fiasco. Your music transcends the bullshit you’ve been served.
Want to know every detail? You can watch Justin Hunte’s entire episode of “The Breakdown” below.