Rapping over Radiohead samples is an easy way to get Radiohead-loving rap fans like me to take note. If the emcee in question is super–smart Chicagoan Lupe Fiasco and the Radiohead track he’s borrowing is 2000’s fantastically unsettling “The National Anthem,” you bet I’m clicking through extra fast.
Such was the case for the second track from Lupe’s new mixtape Enemy of the State, released last week as, I can only assume, a very thoughtful Thanksgiving gift to yours truly. It doesn’t disappoint. Lupe’s flows are still some of the nicest going — so nimble that, like many of his songs, this one can take a few listens (and preferably a lyrics sheet) to catch all the double entendres, subversive sentiments, and extended metaphors he’s playing with. And he really lets the original Radiohead song breathe, working with its pummeling bass and freaky free-jazz horns in a way that I bet the Oxford wizards themselves would dig.
Check out Lupe Fiasco’s “The National Anthem” below (some NSFW imagery), and let us know what you think. And if you’re really a Radiohead-meets-rap connoisseur, which do you like better: This or 2007’s “Us Placers,” where Lupe, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams sampled Radiohead leader Thom Yorke’s solo cut “The Eraser”?
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