Lupe Fiasco energized hip-hop when his highly anticipated 2006 debut Food & Liquor was leaked online before shooting into the Top 10 of Billboard's album charts upon its release. Critics hailed the rapper as the savior of the genre on the strength of tracks like the skateboard anthem "Kick, Push" and his mellow, Grammy-winning duet with soul/jazz singer Jill Scott on "Daydreamin'."
Born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco on February 17th, 1982, in Chicago, Illinois, he is the son of a gourmet chef mother and engineer father. When the rapper was a child, his mother gave him the nickname "Lu" by shortening his first name. By high school his friends began calling him Lupe and he picked up Fiasco from a track by hip-hop supergroup the Firm. A fan of Nas, Fiasco began rapping at age 19 with the group Da Pak, which signed with Epic Records and released a minor single before splitting up. He then signed with Arista, but the deal was cut short when the label folded in 2004. Fiasco forged on, eventually finding himself on the hip-hop radar when he released a series of critically acclaimed mixtapes. He signed with Atlantic Records, released "Kick, Push" as a single and appeared on Kanye West's 2006 song "Touch the Sky."
After his debut leaked, Atlantic rushed the release of Food & Liquor (Number Two R&B/Hip-Hop; Number Eight Pop, 2006), and the album met with rave reviews for its strong storytelling, mature subject matter grounded in his Muslim faith and inventive mixes from name producers including West, Jay-Z, the Neptunes and Mike Shinoda. The disc earned three Grammy nominations including Best Rap Album. The Cool (Number Four R&B/Hip-Hop; Number 14 Pop, 2007), a loose concept album that follows some of the characters on his debut, also received positive reviews and yielded the single "Superstar" (Number 10 Pop; Number 19 R&B/Hip-Hop, 2007). In 2007, Fiasco also formed a supergroup with Kanye West and Pharrell known as CRS; their track "Us Placers" samples a Thom Yorke song. In 2008, all three artists appeared on West's Glow in the Dark tour. Though he's revealed he plans to retire from hip-hop young in several interviews, Fiasco is reportedly working on a third album, tentatively titled LupEnd.