“Kick, Push” by Lupe Fiasco
Taking songs like this into consideration, Lupe Fiasco is someone whom we can define as an alternative rap artist, even though such a designation may not really be part of standard industry-related lexicon.
And no, we don’t mean alternative hip-hop but rather alternative rap, as it is clear Lupe is an actual lyricist as opposed to an artist who relies primarily on a hook to get his point across. Or put alternatively, it’s not every day that we come across a song by a mainstream rapper that’s about skateboarding.
Well actually, this song is not about skateboarding per se but rather the related lifestyle of this dude that Lupe apparently grew up with who is seriously into the sport. But before we get into the main narrative, there is of course the intro to Kick, Push.
And to note, this was Fiasco’s debut single. So he has to utilize such an opportunity to likewise introduce himself to the world at large. Moreover in the intro, he gives a shoutout to the “1st & 15th”, not only being one of the labels behind this song but also one which he ran himself.
And even though you wouldn’t know it based solely on the intro, Lupe came into the game as the co-founder and CEO of a record label, not a record industry newbie in the business sense of the world.
He then proceeds to close out the intro by dedicating this song ‘to all of his homeys who are out there grinding’. Now the term “grinding”, as generally used, means hustling to make paper. But it has also been reasonably put forth, considering the nature of this track, that what Lupe is rather referring to is skateboarding.
The possibility of such being true is further buttressed when the vocalist recognizes those who are “grinding” both “legally and illegally”. And you will know what we mean by that by the time this post is concluded.
Actual Narrative of “Kick, Push”
And now, we actually get to the actual narrative. For beginners the subject is presented as being a small child, i.e. six years old, when he receives his first skateboard. As such he didn’t know how to perform on the device and accordingly, the first time he tried to ride it, ended up injuring his lip quite seriously.
And whereas such misfortune may deter the average fellow from continuing in this endeavor, in his case he had a natural affinity for the sport, even if he wasn’t good at it at the time. So he stays committed and eventually develops skills.
However, others in the ‘hood, such as “his neighbors”, began to disdain this hobby. The implication would be that the noise jumping up and down on a skateboard generates, etc., was annoying them.
So he couldn’t do it any longer at home but rather “was banished to the park”. And again, the tone of the song is like such would have deterred a less-dedicated person. But instead he spends the entire day therein, skateboarding. In fact it gets to the point where the people who run the park also sack him, citing a “no skating here” rule.
Subject is a bona fide Misfit
So that would be why the chorus presents the subject as someone who is “a rebel to the world with no place to go”. For as also put forth in the first verse, this dude has been labeled a “misfit” and “bandit” due to his strong affinity for skateboarding. But he remains engaged, i.e. ‘rebellious’, nonetheless.
And as such, expressions such as “kick”, “push” and “coast” apparently allude to skating maneuvers. Moreover the vocalist is obviously sympathetic to the plight of the subject, with Lupe apparently being some type of skateboarding aficionado himself. And in that regard what he appears to be doing, as illustrated by the bridge, is inviting all of such individuals to band together and get their skating on.
Continuation of the Story
So anyway going back to the main story, the subject remains on his skateboard, ages and accordingly is becoming more and more exceptional at the sport. However, he doesn’t take proper safety precautions, i.e. wearing a helmet, which has his mother concerned.
He also proceeds to get himself a girlfriend, someone whom he meets as a fan of his skateboarding skills actually. He explains to her that he is the type who, at this point in his life, is not prepared to put a woman over his favorite pastime. But they prove to be compatible nonetheless, as she too is an avid skateboarder.
In fact she takes him to this like secret spot of hers, someplace in the ‘hood he isn’t aware of where’ which, as advertised, they could freely engage in this activity. But to the contrary there too security rolls up and tells them that skating is not allowed on the premises.
The “Kick, Push” phrase is a powerful Metaphor
So by the time we get to the second chorus, this is when it starts to become more evident that the ‘kicking’ and ‘pushing’ that Fiasco is referring to may not only be skateboarding moves. Such terms also point to the hardships that people like the subject and his girlfriend go through in life. Skateboarding persecution is real, folks. Or, in the very least it is according to Lupe Fiasco.
Eventually, as detailed in the third verse, the subject hooks with other individuals just like himself. And instead of looking for safe places to skate, they instead do so wherever they feel inspired to. And one of such places is interesting “office building lobbies”, which as far as no-skating rules go would definitely be off limits.
The point is that they no longer cared about the authorities really. So long as they were able to perceive “an escape route” from wherever they decided to skateboard, then they would proceed to do their thing. And they would pimp the facility for all its worth until they could no longer, i.e. the cops coming along and shutting them down.
So by the time the song concludes, yes, it can be gleaned that the vocalist has a thing for skateboarding. But way more importantly, he perceives the subject and his cohorts as being some sort of anti-establishment heroes – “rebels without a cause” as Lupe puts it.
And such would apparently be why he’s telling their story, presenting them as individuals who would follow their, shall we say harmless, passion, against a society that regularly tries to discourage them from doing so.
Indeed an inferred premise of this story is that what we’re basically dealing with is kids who, most simply put, have nowhere to play.
And play is all they really want to do anyway, not be accepted by the society at large. So when Fiasco further describes dude as “a rebel looking for a place to be”, that can also be interpreted ‘as a place to play’ as opposed to residing per se.
So again, we have to give it up to the vocalist for presenting a standard idea in a non-standard way. That is to say that unlawful rebellion, if you will, is actually one of the most common themes in rap music. But usually, such is put into the context of the protagonist being a drug dealer, murderer or some type of a protestor against the system. But never have we come across a song in which such is encapsulated in the life of a freelance skateboarder.
“Kick, Push” Facts
Artist(s): Lupe Fiasco
Album/EP: “Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor”
Was “Kick, Push” a single release?
Yes. It was a single released from Fiasco’s debut album, “Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor”. April 18 of 2006 was the release date of “Kick, Push”.
- US – 78
- UK – 27
Notable Usage of “Kick, Push”
“Kick, Push” was featured in episode 4, season 4 of the TV show, “One Tree Hill”.
In 2008, it was covered by Tokimonsta. It has also been sampled by a plethora of singers and rappers. They include the following:
- U-N-I – “K.R.E.A.M.” (2007)
- Blu – “Kiss the Sky” (2012)
- ToteKing – “Bartleby & Co.” (2017)
- Kidd feat. DJ Aktual – “Black Sheep (Yung Lupe)” (2014)
- Educated Consumers – “Right They’re” (2007)
Lupe had issues with his record label, Atlantic Records in relation to ownership of “Kick, Push”. He claims the label strong-armed him to own the song.
In 2007, “Kick, Push” was nominated alongside the following songs for “Best Rap Solo Performance” in the Grammys:
- “Touch It” by Busta Rhymes
- “We Run This” by Missy Elliott
- “What You Know” by T.I. (winner)
- “Undeniable” by Mos Def
It got nominated in the “Best Rap Song” category with “Money Maker” by Ludacris featuring Pharrell winning the category.
Other nominations in the “Best Rap Song” included:
- “It’s Goin’ Down” by Yung Joc
- “Ridin” by Chamillionaire
- “What You Know” by T.I.