When the word of Lupe Fiasco’s side project Japanese Cartoon leaked last year, the singer notoriously denied that he had anything to do with the project. The “band” even spurted out dubious claims that their MySpace page was “hacked,” to change the lead singer’s name to Lupe Fiasco.
Well, after his latest project Lasers got shelved by Atlantic, the Chicago MC came clean in an interview with Complex. (head there for the full interview)
Complex: When the public first heard about Japanese Cartoon, you denied being in the group. What was that about?
Lupe Fiasco: What that was, I didn’t know if I really wanted to do it. I set up a Myspace page, and this was when I was like, “Aaight, I want to put it out but I don’t want to promote it through Lupe Fiasco.” I didn’t want it to be viewed as a Lupe Fiasco side project. I wanted it to be like, “Here’s this band out of nowhere.” [That way] I can get an honest opinion. I didn’t want to get, “Man I like Lupe, but that’s wack because he’s not rapping,” or a “Lupe, everything he do is dope!” I wanted a true reaction to it.
What happened was Busy—who works at Atlantic and is a part of me becoming who I am today—put the link to the Myspace page on his blog. And the kid who runs the Lupe blog just happened to check it out by chance and he was like, “That sounds like Lupe!” And it was a wrap from there. And me denying it was me just like, “Nah, that ain’t me. I’m not British.” But it didn’t work. They was like, “Nah, that’s you.” But then you had people who were like, “Man, I’m telling you that ain’t Lupe!”
For me, it was an ill piece to the band with the anonymity because I was denying it and why would I deny it? But it was more so because it wasn’t finished and I didn’t really know if I wanted to do it and I didn’t want it to be presented to the world in that controversial way. I just wanted it to come out and people got on to it and one day we did a show and I come out like, “Oh my God! It’s Lupe!” I would have preferred to have that than have an Internet scandal. This is one of the downsides of having a fanatic fanbase that I love so much.
It just came out from two sources that came out that were dedicated to Lupe. Busy’s blog, they know he’s my man and he’s a part of my crew. And they did it from the official source of all things Lupe Fiasco. And it was kind of like, “Yeah, that’s Lupe.” And I was like, “That’s not me!” And they was like, “Yeah, it’s you.” Now I’m like, “Yeah, it’s me.”
It went from making songs for Matthew to being its own thing. Like, “this is Japanese Cartoon.” With me singing in a fake British accent with this motley crew of guest engineers and guest studio musicians to play on this record by request. So that’s the band. And over time as we did more records, I got more comfortable hearing my own voice so the accent started to go away. On songs like, “Crowd Participation” and “You Are Here,” I’m not using the accent. Those are songs later in the recording process, [when] I’d stopped using the accent. But I felt it would have been an injustice to go back and re-sing all the songs. I felt that people should get the whole Japanese Cartoon experience as it was.
To be honest, I understand why the dude didn’t come clean in the first place. Singing rock songs in a fake British accent in homage to Queen just isn’t hot in the streets. However, I believe that the Japanese Cartoon project could’ve been a boon for the struggling MC, much in the say that N.E.R.D. helped elevate left-field rock inspired hood music to another level and enabled it to cross over.
The EP that dropped this summer is good, and even though it’s not fit for mainstream audiences, there are enough indie rock heads out there that hey could get support for the project. Unless he has contractual obligations, he should drop it on an indie like Dangerbird or Stone’s Throw and set up a mini tour while he waits indefinitely for his album to drop. Sure, it’s not hot in the streets, but when did the “streets” show love for Lupe anyway? (h/t Hypetrak)