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Friday, March 23, 2007

LISTENING POST

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Ms. Lauryn Hill and Lupe Fiasco


The second Springroove, promoter Creativeman's hip-hop and R&B festival, boasts homegrown talent such as AI along with international superstars Kayne West, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and up-and-comers Lupe Fiasco and Lady Sovereign.

News photo
Ms. Lauryn Hill (left) and Lupe Fiasco AP PHOTO (left)

On his Grammy-nominated debut, 2006's "Food & Liquor," the Chicago-bred Fiasco raps "I used to hate hip-hop, yup, because the women degraded." Choosing to be more socially conscious, the MC succeeded early, signing two major label contracts and forming the imprint 1st and 15th barely out of his teens. Influenced by Nas, Fiasco's soulful rhymes reference street life without glamorizing it. A devout Muslim, he avoids the clubbing, drinking and drugs associated with the hip-hop lifestyle, establishing him as a true alternative among his stereotypical peers.

Lady Sovereign's upbringing in a low-income area of London helped develop a much needed toughness. Posting material online to begin her career, the pint-size MC attracted as much criticism as accolades. She silenced haters who dismissed her because of her race, sex and nationality by becoming the first non-American woman to sign with renowned rap label Def Jam. But even that was a challenge. Meeting with label CEO Jay-Z, she had to drop a freestyle rap on the spot before being offered a deal.

Released in February, "Public Warning" showcases Sovereign's outspoken, playful nature. Possessing a rebellious streak as well, she threw a drink and spat on amateur rapper Jelly Donut (who actually wears a doughnut costume) for disrupting her January San Francisco concert, and recently exchanged words with Lily Allen in the press. After Springroove she'll be opening up Gwen Stefani's North American tour.

Lupe Fiasco and Lady Sovereign play at Springroove on Mar. 31 (1 p.m. start) at Makuhari Messe, Chiba; tickets 10,500 yen (www.springroove.com). Lupe Fiasco plays March 30, 7 p.m. at Club Metro, Kyoto; tickets 5,500 yen. Lady Sovereign plays April 2, 6 p.m. at Duo Music Exchange, Tokyo; tickets 4,500 yen. For more information call (03) 5466-0777 or visit www.creativeman.co.jp


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