On the Grind: Lupe Fiasco's "Kick, Push"

Submitted by notoriousclassics on Tue, 02/16/2021 - 21:10
Lupe Fiasco in 2006

Some of the best hip-hop anthems tell colorful stories about special times. Lupe Fiasco's debut single "Kick, Push" was one of the best such tracks of the 2000s, a chill tale of love, life and...skateboarding!

The Chicago-raised rapper was trying to do something different in rap from the jump, later admitting his discomfort with the trops of gangsta rap. "I was acting like this rapper who would never be judged, and I had to destroy that guy," he said of his early days. "Because what Lupe Fiasco says on this microphone is going to come back to Wasalu Jaco. When the music cuts off, you have to go home and live with what you say."

An early solo deal at Arista Records fell through without him releasing any music, but it did get him noticed by one of the game's biggest names: Jay-Z, who helped him sign a new deal and introduced him to friends like Kanye West, who featured Fiasco on "Touch the Sky," off West's sophomore album Late Registration in 2005.

Read More: Blueprints for Success: Jay-Z's Greatest Hits

"Kick, Push" was not meant to be the lead single off debut album Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor. "“It was never supposed to be a single," he later said in 2014. "It was for a skate shop called Uprise for a skate DVD and then it just took a life of its own." While that attracted some backlash from skaters who (wrongly) thought he was co-opting the culture, that didn't stop places like Pitchfork (who named it No. 15 on their list of the best tracks of 2006) from calling it the "perfect summer single."

Listening to it again, Lupe's detailed lyrics and the killer sample (from a song by Filipina singer Celeste Legaspi), it's hard not to want to coast into a simpler time to the strains of "Kick, Push."