A New Video From Lupe Fiasco Shows Selling Out Was Never His Plan
Like most artists, Lupe Fiasco’s body of work does not begin with his debut album. Food & Liquor, which dropped in 2006, was preceded not only by the mixtape Fahrenheit 1/15 Part I: The Truth Is Among Us a year prior, but also unreleased works which have been held in a proverbial vault. Among those works is a newly unveiled music video for a song called “Run Game,” which stars a youthful, unknown man with dreams of becoming a famous rapper. That famous rapper turns out to be Lupe Fiasco.
In the Complex premiere for “Run Game,” Lupe’s 1st & 15th Entertainment co-founder and long-standing business partner Charles “Chill” Patton shared the song and its video to highlight an upcoming playlist he’s curating, featuring music recorded during 1st & 15th’s infancy. Its release was given Lupe’s blessing. The MC told Complex‘s Shawn Setaro, “We recorded this single back when I was just starting out…Chill was heavily involved in the early days of my career, and I’m glad he’s highlighting it with this new project.”
“Run Game” follows the young dreamer as he runs from something (or someone) in an alleyway and into an abandoned home. There, he finds a tiny treasure chest holding a pair of magic sunglasses which, when placed on his face, allow him to see his life in a parallel universe. With the glasses on, he’s a superstar rapper with fancy kicks on his feet, photographers in his face and a hot date in a hot car. Eventually, he finds himself in a recording studio, surrounded by eager women. It’s all too much for him, and he darts out and locks the shades back up.
Lupe’s verses on “Run Game” are deceptively flashy, just like the video suggests. Sure, he’s touting fancy belongings and attention from women but in the song’s closing verse, he makes it clear the song is truly about how to run game on others. not vice versa. “The reality is I know exactly what my salary is / And I can’t afford to play myself,” he raps before adding “Why should I succumb to the power of the P-U- / Frontin’ to intrigue you” and “I seen it coming like previews / So I started dumbing to deceive you / And make you fall for the okey-doke / Ooh, I must admit, this was mostly hoax.”
In 2018, Lupe Fiasco released DROGAS WAVE, a lyrically dense conceptual album, that keeps the theme of “Run Game” — that dumbing down your music is not necessary for fulfillment or success — in the forefront of his music for more than 20 years.