Music videos get shelved for a myriad of reasons, generally stemming from the artist not being happy with the final product.
Lupe Fiasco’s studio debut album, 2006’s Food & Liquor featured a wide range of single choices and showcased serious depth in a rookie MC. One of those choices was a heavy, sociocultural anthem titled “The Instrumental” that still managed to pack an accessible nu metal vibe. Unbeknownst to the general rap public, a video was shot for the song but Atlantic Records dived on its rollout like a live hand grenade.
Today, director Chris Adams unearths the cinematic clip from its tomb and gives a backstory on why it took eight years for it to see daylight.
Back in 2006 Impakt studio was tasked with producing several projects for 1st & 15th artist Lupe Fiasco which included music videos for Kick Push, He say She say, Emperors Soundtrack, as well as support for album cover shoots, EPK’s and commercials. It was a great relationship for us. 1st & 15th C.E.O. Chilly really gave us total creative control over the projects and Lupe really liked what we were doing. I remember Lupe looking around our studio office and seeing anime dvd’s, action figures, skateboards, posters of Che Guevara and smiling saying “I know i’m in the right place”. So we did Kick Push and I remember Lupe was at the Grammy’s while we were finishing it up and we sent him a private link to a snippet of the video hosted on our server.
When all of a sudden our phone started blowing up it was Atlantic records, the snippet had leaked on the internet. A hacker who was a Lupe fan got into our server and posted the snippet online and also locked us out of our server! It was chaos we had to call the host company to shut down our site! Soon after, Kick Push was released. It was doing very well so Lupe put a poll on his myspace page, which at the time he would personally manage and respond to his fans to the tune of about 2 hours a day, the poll was for the fans to decide what video he would do next and overwhelmingly it was for the song American Terrorist, a volatile song to say the least but one of my favorites. So we came up with a Crazy Idea for the video which im not going to tell because id like to use the concept one day, and sent it to Atlantic records…they were not happy with it. It was an idea that would definitely be controversial and Lupe loved it.
They said they would think about it and suggested we do a video for “The Instrumental” instead which I think they thought was a “safe” song. Boy were they wrong. There was a lot going on in the world and “The Instrumental” was a perfect soundtrack for what was going on. There was the Abu ghraib scandal, Saddam Hussein was convicted of crimes against humanity, then President Bush signs a law renewing the Patriot Act, including a signing statement stating that he does not consider himself bound by its requirement to tell Congress how the law is being used, the fiasco of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, Google bought Youtube to name a few.
So we decided to make “The Instrumental” a visual nightmare of the media’s ever growing grasp over its consumers, a message that I feel Atlantic wasn’t ready for. So the video was shelved never to see light of day. Until today.
footnote the final video was going to end with a shot of some kids opening Christmas presents and one of the presents is the glowing cube seen in the video. That part was never filmed.
Peep the Lupe Fiasco-less video for “The Instrumental” below.