Grammy award-winning rapper Lupe Fiasco returned to his home city Sunday, performing at Soldier Field during halftime of the Bears' 'Inspire Change' game against the Bills.
"It feels good to be in one of the staples of the city, one of the crown jewels of the city and be able to perform, even if it's just one song," Fiasco said. "It still counts, so yeah, it feels good."
The Chicago native performed "Kick, Push," the first single released from his debut album – "Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor." While the wind chill was around 10 below zero during his show, Lupe Fiasco said the extreme weather is part of the program during a Chicago winter.
Still, the artist was excited to take in the elements and attend a Bears game this season.
"I feel like this is Bears football weather," Lupe Fiasco told ChicagoBears.com prior to his performance. "When you think of what could optimally express what Chicago is about at its most extreme, it's a Bears football game in the middle of a blizzard, negative nothin below outside, with the Bears on the field trying to bring a win in. I think that's the optimal hardship that represents Chicago the most, in terms of sports. So, to be able to experience that today, it's gonna be pretty cool."
Lupe Fiasco no longer resides in Chicago, spending more time in Boston now as he teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, he said he comes back home from time to time, either spending time with family or stopping in for shows or collaborations.
Through about 20 years of life on the road, the songwriter and record-producer hasn't been able to attend many Bears games, but his fandom reaches back to his childhood.
"The Bears have always been a part of the program, a part of the narrative, even for my family." Lupe Fiasco said. "I remember back in the day, my dad did something with Mike Singletary. That was like our Bears moment for the fam. Mike Singletary did a poster and wore some of my dad's martial arts equipment in the poster. So that was always our claim to fame, and people were like, 'no it ain't.' But you read on the poster it says, 'thanks to Gregory Jaco,' my dad. So, I guess this is the second part, now I get to do something."
Along with his Chicago roots, Lupe Fiasco was invited to perform Sunday in conjunction with the NFL's new initiative, Inspire Change, which honors a local "changemaker" in the community through social justice work. For the Bears, Adam Alonso, CEO of BUILD, received the inaugural award.
Lupe Fiasco has remained committed to community work in the city and across the nation as well as inspiring change through his music. In 2017, He received the third-annual Chicagoness Award, which honors "individuals and businesses that exemplify the values and unique traits of the Chicago entrepreneur, which include"hard work, commitment to community, inclusion and a vision that fosters collective opportunity."
Performing during the Inspire Change added another special moment to Lupe Fiasco's return to Chicago.
"I think it's something that on its coldest day, at its darkest hour, that the city still comes out to play," Lupe Fiasco said. "They come out to – as Jeezy would say, 'put on for the city,' – and do the work that needs to happen, because for some people ain't got no choice. They gotta bear through and deal with it. Some people who really ain't got no heat in the city, unfortunately, or going through certain circumstances in the city where they ain't got that choice to not show up. They gotta be there because that's their life.
"So I think anybody that can have a hand in that, whether it be an entertainer, a local activist, a football player - whether they're from the city or not or just passing through. So, always about the social activism, always about the folks in the city, Chicago being one of the most socially active cities, partly because there's so much at stake here.
The lives of young men and women are at stake, so we gotta take it a little more serious than other cities. I think the people who show up to do that are exemplary individuals who deserved to be honored."