“Superstar” by Lupe Fiasco (ft. Matthew Santos)
Lupe Fiasco’s “Superstar” is a complex song, not only in terms of the metaphors being used but also what they mean even when deciphered. The main theme, apparently, centers on Lupe critically analyzing the effects of becoming famous.
But there are also quite a few references to religious ideologies and other stuff. And the way in which they are all intermingled can make this song confusing to understand. So our strategy is to go straight down the line – highlighting the main points throughout the three verses – and then afterwards identifying a commonality between them.
Verses of “Superstar”
From the onset, Lupe goes about analyzing his fame with a brutally honest eye. Or put differently, he’s not the type of rapper to believe his own press. And the whole experience of becoming famous has humbled him. It also makes him question his contribution to the game, like has it actually been constructive, original or not.
It would seem that one of the reasons Fiasco is famous yet humble is because even at his current standing, he knows there are people a lot more popular than himself. This is something he admits via a tale of being denied entry to a venue, while “more famous” people and even pretty girls were granted access.
He then equates this experience to being denied admission into heaven. And ultimately the point it seems he’s trying to get to is that the real reason they didn’t let him into the aforementioned venue is because he’s wilder than your average celebrity.
However, the verse ends with what is clearly a reflection on his religious standing, in which the vocalist acknowledges that he isn’t exactly exercising a pious lifestyle. So putting all of this together, the idea being presented is that Lupe Fiasco is like a bad boy. And it is that characteristic which prevents him from fully embracing the spotlight, or something like that.
The second verse is more focused on the fame itself, which is presented as being dangerous. How it is so exactly is not specified, as such explanations are hidden behind diverse yet very broad allegories. And this is something which obviously celebrities themselves realize. But instead of running away from the fame, they desire to become even more famous.
And Lupe apparently closes out the verse by noting how fandom can be quite merciless, and if a celebrity doesn’t take time, he or she can fall off in an instant.
Thus the vocalist commences the third verse by implying that he actually wants to give the fame up – along with all of its stresses – and return home to a simpler life. This then leads to some type of fantasy of Lupe being at home but still remaining famous. And it actually concludes with him celebrating a vision of fans performing for him, or again, something like that. Indeed no disrespect to the lead vocalist, but we have to believe that this is one of those cases where the hook is what really sold the song, as the verses are a bit puzzling.
And that said, even deciphering the hook isn’t a cake walk. What Matthew Santos may be telling Lupe, in the grand scheme of the song, is that he should man-up and handle the pressure if he wants to remain a celebrity. Well, that’s one way of interpreting it.
Another is like the fame offers a relief from itself. Or put alternatively, celebrities are empowered by their status. Having people love and sweat you is one of the rewards. But of course, such a sentiment would be a sarcastic one given the overall theme of the song.
What “Superstar” is all about
So at the end of the day, “Superstar” is an ambitious but perplexing effort. It’s clear that Lupe is a talented lyricist who is able to spin words outside of the conventional hip-hop lexicon. But perhaps he got ahead of himself on this one. Yet that said, the song still somehow does an effective job of getting its main point across, which is fame not being all it’s cracked up to be.
Primary Artist(s): Lupe Fiasco
Featured Artist(s): Matthew Santos
Writing: Lupe Fiasco alongside Soundtrakk
Album/EP: “Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool”
Was “Superstar” a single release?
Yes. “Superstar” is the first single of the “Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool” album. Lupe officially dropped it on the 25th of September, 2007.
“Superstar” was nominated for “Best Hip-Hop Video” at the MTV Video Music Awards, 2008. The song was in the same category with the following:
- “Low” (Flo Rida ft. T-Pain)
- “Homecoming” (Kanye West ft. Chris Martin)
- “Lollipop” (Lil Wayne ft. Static Major)
How did “Superstar” perform on the Charts?
- US – 10
- UK – 1
- Turkey – 4
- Ireland – 3
Has “Superstar” been sampled in other songs?
- Charles Hamilton – “Superman” (2008)
- DJ Earworm – “No More Gas” (2008)
- Pitbull – “Superstar (Freestyle)” (2009)
“NFL Tour”, a football video game and NHL 2K10, an ice hockey video game have “Superstar” featured on their sound tracks.