Meet the Surprisingly Young Guy Who Is Organizing Lupe Fiasco's Protest Against Atlantic Records
Matthew La Corte is a 17-year-old rap fan from West Paterson, New Jersey. Specifically, Matthew's a fan of Lupe Fiasco, the bright, tortured, socially-conscious Chicago rapper whose third album, Lasers, has been infinitely delayed by his record label, Atlantic. About a week ago, someone made a proposal on the Kanye Live Forums message board that Matthew frequents: what if Lupe's fans staged a protest against the label? A Twitter hashtag, #FiascoFriday, begot a Facebook group, begot a real, honest to goodness protest, and so it came to pass that La Corte found himself planning a march on one of the biggest labels on the planet. He has help though: in addition to his Kanye Live confederates (many of whom, Matthew says, he's never even met in real life), more than 900 people have RSVP'd to the event; one of them appears to be Lupe Fiasco himself. Is this a real thing? We called the kid up to find out.
Won't somebody please liberate this record?
Explain to me the genesis of Fiasco Friday. What is it? How did it start?
Well, three years ago Lupe came out and said that he was going to do a new album. And we were kind of waiting around for things to happen. Then Lupe started to release some information about how the album was finished, the album was done, and he gave it into his record label Atlantic and nothing was happening. It was in their hands and he couldn't do anything. So we continued to wait. And then there was a petition that was started, and people started to spread that around, and now I think we're at 29,000 signatures. But we gave that in to Atlantic this summer and what happened was they tweeted that it was coming; that was all they were saying. They refused to give us any official information about why it hasn't been released. And I think many of us feel personally disrespected that they really have blatantly just been completely silent on this issue--that's basically what started this whole thing.
Since then, you've helped organize a physical protest, slated for October 15th. Is there anyone else you're organizing it with or is it just you?
There are so many people who are involved with this now. We have this Facebook group that last time I checked had over 900 members, and people are just posting ideas. Basically it's a mass group of people over the internet brainstorming things. Someone made t-shirts. Someone is looking into making a documentary about the whole thing. Everyone is putting their little creative twist on the event. And that it's mostly a youth-based movement is one of the better things about it, because with what's happening in the country and the whole scenario economically, politically, socially, things like that, it's really good to see the youth get behind someone who supports intelligent thought and creative direction and taking this world into a place that's better than it is now. I think that that's a major portion of this movement.
Where are you with the logistics? Do you guys have a permit yet?
We've been in talks. There are members on the forum talking with members of the governor's office in New York. I'm not really in charge of the permit portion of the thing, so I can't really tell you a lot about that. I know we are looking right now into getting a sound permit because we want to get speakers--we want have Lupe's music playing while we're there--so that's a major thing that we want to do. Other than that, I know we're planning on contacting NYPD, so they know what's happening. For a lot of people this is the first time they've done a real political action. I've done things before that were very small in my town of 11,000 people so I'm not really concerned about getting arrested or things like that but this is New York City and we're definitely aware of the fact that we need to get all the legal logistics worked out. We need to finish that portion because that's a major part. We just want it to be a safe and respectful and nonviolent protest at Atlantic and really make sure no one gets arrested, no one gets in trouble, things like that.
What town are you from in New Jersey?
West Paterson. They changed the name of my town, so I organized a student protest about two years ago. A bunch of us got together and we marched to the municipal building and we talked to the mayor, things like that. And I didn't get a permit and didn't talk to the cops, we just kinda went through it because I wasn't nervous about what was going happen. But where we are in 2010, I guess I can say I'm nervous about the potential for things getting a little rowdy because 900 people are on the Facebook group, there's already 850 who have responded on the website. We're getting emails from people left and right flying out from California and going on road trips, so if we don't have all the permits correct it would really be a catastrophe.
Why Lupe? Major labels sit on rappers' records all the time.
Personally I feel that Lupe Fiasco is a completely different breed of rapper. There are a lot of other types of rappers and what we really wanted to focus on was not talking about other rappers and what they do and naming names, but focusing on Lupe and his positive message and the things he talks about in his songs. It's also what he does outside the record booth and all the things he does for charity. He just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year for charity. He just donated coats for a children's charity. He's a rapper but he's also a social advocate, he's a political activist. He does things that really break the mold of that traditional rapper, and I think that's what draws a lot of people to his music is that here's a guy who is really talking about some of the most major issues that a lot of people feel, and that's why a lot of people can relate to him. Because we all, as the youth and even as older people, we have thoughts about what's going on, what's happening around us and we want to express those thoughts.
And people have said, "Oh, there are so many other reasons you could be protesting. Why are you protesting Lupe Fiasco?" I think that it's important that we get behind one person who's going put out information and ideas that other rappers aren't. That's a major portion of why we're doing this in the first place. Why is Atlantic not putting out this record? You can see right now how strong of a fanbase he has. Is the issue that it's not commercial? You're not going to hear a Lupe Fiasco songs on many radio stations. Are you gonna be able to get that money as the Atlantic Music Corporation from radio play? It's not gonna happen. So what idea is Atlantic Records putting out? That it's okay to bring our children up with this music that's all about me going out and partying tonight? Is that really what we're all looking for? I mean, rap and music and creative expression has forever been used to reflect the society, and what's going on in the world right now. I think there's a lot of other things that rappers can be expressing, and the things that are on the radio are really do not reflect what this society is all about. And I think that's why there's so much push behind Lupe, because he's really much more than just a rapper from Chicago. He represents a generation, and a movement.