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Lupe Fiasco Explains How Online Piracy Affects Artists

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In the wake of the government seizure of several hip-hop websites, artists and media professionals alike have been sounding off on the topic of music piracy. For Lupe Fiasco, the discussion may be fresh, but the idea of bloggers serving music to the masses without permission is anything but new.

Weeks before sites like OnSmash.com were shut down, Fiasco adamantly opposed the careless actions of blog administrators who knowingly supply songs they’ve illegally accessed, without gaining proper approval to post on their respective sites.

“People are trapped in the culture where music needs to be free and you don’t need to pay for it,” he told The BoomBox. “I was just at Princeton, speaking at Cornel West’s class, and someone asked that. They asked about the relationship between blogs and artists. I told them, at a bare minimum it costs me, literally out of my own pocket, it costs me $3,000 to $4,000 to make a song. It costs me about $700 to $800 to make a freestyle. I’m giving you that.”

The Chi-town MC went on to discuss the difference between the tracks he dishes out compared to those bloggers take from him, unjustly. “Just imagine if I work with The Neptunes, including studio time and everything that goes into it — flying people around — it gets up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a song like ‘I’m Beamin’ or ‘I Gotcha.’ So to kinda see it on the Internet and, for some instances, for sale, who are you to have the right to tell me that I shouldn’t demand payment or feel a certain way for seeing people put my music out there like that? If I chose to do that, that’s one thing. But I didn’t choose to do that. That music was stolen.”

Earlier this summer, Lupe was engaged in a war of words, via the Internet, with Eskay, founder of the popular hip-hop blog NahRight.com. The controversy surrounded the rhymer’s rants on his music being pirated and leaked via the blog. While articles have since published claiming NahRight’s owner never placed a ban on Lupe’s songs, as a result of the tiff, rumors circulated the ‘net that the site indeed had, albeit for a short time.

“You have to come to grips with you wanting to be popular as opposed to you [saying], ‘Oh we’re just gonna ban this dude,’” Lupe explained. “It doesn’t shake me either way. At the end of the day, I’m not making money off of it, directly or indirectly.”

The ‘Lasers’ creator says if there was such a ban, the decision to resume supplying his material for the site’s readers comes not because of a want, but due to a need. “You’re getting money from Google for ads with the amount of people that come to your site. So those 10,000 Lupe Fiasco fans that are not coming to your site to listen to that song, that’s 10,000 less clicks that you have,” Lupe justifies. “They’re in kinda conflict with themselves and need to get over themselves and really come to grips with what actually went down, which was people pirating music.”

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