Lupe Fiasco raps over Radiohead's 'National Anthem'

Rapping over Radiohead samples is an easy way to get Radiohead-loving rap fans like me to take note. If the emcee in question is super-smart Chicagoan Lupe Fiasco and the Radiohead track he’s borrowing is 2000’s fantastically unsettling “The National Anthem,” you bet I’m clicking through extra fast.

Such was the case for the second track from Lupe’s new mixtape Enemy of the State, released last week as, I can only assume, a very thoughtful Thanksgiving gift to yours truly. It doesn’t disappoint. Lupe’s flows are still some of the nicest going — so nimble that, like many of his songs, this one can take a few listens (and preferably a lyrics sheet) to catch all the double entendres, subversive sentiments, and extended metaphors he’s playing with. And he really lets the original Radiohead song breathe, working with its pummeling bass and freaky free-jazz horns in a way that I bet the Oxford wizards themselves would dig.

Check out Lupe Fiasco’s “The National Anthem” below (some NSFW imagery), and let us know what you think. And if you’re really a Radiohead-meets-rap connoisseur, which do you like better: This or 2007’s “Us Placers,” where Lupe, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams sampled Radiohead leader Thom Yorke’s solo cut “The Eraser”?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • Aaron

    This is nice, but Us Placers is lethal. Probably the best use of a sample ever. Its either that or Talib Kweli using “Eleanor Rigby” for “Lonely People”. A shame that two of the best hip hop tracks of the past decade both showed up on mixtapes and not major releases.

    • Tangalusis

      Let’s see I’m pretty good at moives so I shall take a crack at it young sir. (And this is off the top without any searching).Menace II Society, Boyz In The Hood, Dead Presidents, Juice, South Central, Poetic Justice, New Jersey Drive, New Jack City, Colors, and School Daze at the very end. I’m sure I missed one or two, but tell me that ain’t tight!

  • PeterBilt The Nature Boy


  • PiratesDaughter

    Ugh to say the least. The music is perfectly suited for a rap crossover but Lupe sounds so whiney and these lyrics are boring. I wish a better rapper had done it.

    • blewit

      Agreed. You’d better come much stronger to tackle this song with a rap.

  • schnitzelberry

    wale “waledance” or kid cudi/lcd soundsystem better

  • Bob Loblaw

    Lupe had me at the Bill and Ted reference. I also loved The Machinist shout out and his insane flow at the end of verse 1. As great as this “freestyle” was, it’s not even the strongest song on the mixtape. That honor goes to the Yoga Flame Freestyle (where he murks Lil Wayne on his own beat).

  • Chris Catania

    Lupe’s new mixtape is better than most albums released this year! This is some of the best rhyming and recontextualizing/sampling of songs (Radiohead’s National Anthem) I’ve heard in a long time.
    Everyone should have a copy his Enemy of the State: A Love Story Mixtape

  • hill

    Wow. This was awesome. Great lyrics. Nice preformance. Can’t for his next album. The mixtape is very strong.

  • Alex

    Us Placers is crazy awesome. Still a bit gutted they never released it proper.

  • b.wilson

    “i wish a better rapper had done it.”
    Umm there isn’t a better rapper than lupe fiasco.

  • Dre

    Flow=insane, crazy, Awesome!! None better. “I don’t seay I’m best I just say I’m better then….” WOW

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