FEATURE: Lupe Fiasco and Modest Mouse

You’ve probably heard Lupe Fiasco’s new hit “The Show Goes On”. What you may or may not know, is that it samples the riff from Modest Mouse’s single “Float On”.

There are no doubt many devoted indie kids or Modest Mouse fans who are upset about this fact. I’m not upset Lupe sampled the track, however do feel strongly about other aspects of the situation.

Modest Mouse no doubt allowed Mr Fiasco to sample their song. If he had stolen it, there would have been a legal storm surrounding it all. The fact that Lupe Fiasco is using the sample is not an issue with me – all musicians involved have kept their integrity. If Isaac Brock and co are happy with the sampling of “Float On” and the outcome, then so should everyone else.

The issue I have is that the wider population who hear “The Show Goes On” on commercial radio, probably have no idea where that great riff came from. It would not be a widely known fact that Lupe borrowed the melody from other musicians. And this affects me because MM are, in general terms, an independent band. Yes, they’re much more popular now amongst the alternative scene, but they’re still independent and not being flogged by commercial radio.

So when a melody of theirs is used so prominently in a song, and so many people are completely oblivious to it, it annoys me.

It annoys me, because so many people absorbed by commercial radio and terrible auto-tuned pop (in all honesty I’m not having a swipe at Lupe here) are so intolerant towards any other music. I’ve met people, and when I try and introduce them to something new, they basically reject it in their minds before they’ve even heard it.

“I don’t know this band or song,” they think. “Therefore they/it can’t be that good.”

Their minds are closed off.

Except, of course, when it is played hundreds of times over by mainstream radio. “Oh! The new Lupe song! I love this song, it’s so catchy!”

I’d wager that if someone had introduced the people who like the new Lupe song to “Float On” when it was released, most people would have dismissed it. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I honestly think they would just pass it off as some other “unknown band who aren’t cool”. And that’s what irritates me.

It irritates me that as soon as it’s presented in a mass-marketed mainstream track, Modest Mouse’s melody becomes popular, whilst being attributed to another artist. It annoys me that people think “Wow, isn’t this great!”, yet have no idea that people have been loving that combination of notes for years beforehand.

What annoys me most, is that after being told this information, most people probably wouldn’t care one bit. They wouldn’t think to expand their musical tastes. They wouldn’t try to be more tolerant of independent music. They wouldn’t look for these amazing songs and riffs themselves.

Most people simply wouldn’t care.

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6 thoughts on “FEATURE: Lupe Fiasco and Modest Mouse

  1. Ahh there you go! From the time I first heard that Lupe Fiasco song I knew that tiny part of it and I knew that it was from a song that I really liked and then it hit me, Modest Mouse!

    I thought it was cool that Lupe Fiasco was using it, and because it was so blatant he obviously had the ok from MM. But something else didn’t quite feel right… and now you’ve totally solved it for me. I agree with you 100 per cent :)

  2. Float On wasn’t by any means an unknown song. In fact, it was a huge hit on commercial radio–probably Modest Mouse’s biggest. It was all over the place! I’ll bet more people recognized the sample than 95% of the other stuff that gets sampled, since it was a fairly recent hit! It’s not like he sampled Dramamine or Trailer Trash, which were recorded when they actually were an unknown band…

    1. The mainstream radio I heard in Australia didn’t play it at all as far as I know. You could ask probably 95% of people in my school year and they’d have no idea.

      But I see what you’re saying – it is their biggest hit, yeah. I still think a large proportion of people who are fans of Lupe’s song wouldn’t know who wrote the sample though.

  3. That is sooo true! I first heard the Lupe Fiasco song a couple weeks ago and, while it’s a fun song, I immediately was like “OMG! That’s very obvioulsy Float On!” No one had any idea what I was talking about even though I specifically remember listening to Float On when it first came out with this same group of people. I wish that tonight on the MTV Movie Awards when he performed the song, Lupe had said a quick thanks to MM or something. Seriously!

  4. Yeah, I came upon that fact when listening to the radio at work a few weeks back. The song is played no less than 25 times in a twenty four hour period (no lie) so I had time to notice it. I told a co-worker who liked the song that it came from Modest Mouse, so I put on “Float On”. He listened to it all the way through which was radd but said he didn’t like it and told me that Lupe made the song great. Lupe’s song is okay, but it couldn’t be ‘great’ without Modest Mouse. Besides poetically, Float On is much more interesting, and less the same diatribe that pop music blurts out occasionally to make the poor and disinfranchised feel stronger about their roots. I mean I’m poor, but I can never help but see something like that as the proverbial ‘sit booboo, sit. Good boy’.

  5. Dude you hit it dead on. Thats just how i feel. Its nowhere near MMs awesomeness but lupe did it justice. reminds me of, what was the band, iron horse i believe who did a bluegrass cover of Float On and some other MM songs that were pretty decent. I just hope lupe gives MM some kind of credit like they did…

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