"Kick, Push" was Chicago legend Lupe Fiasco’s debut single from his first album Food & Liquor. It tells the story of a young kid and his love of skateboarding. The lyrics follow him through his life from childhood, through dating, marriage, and adulthood.
When the song first came out, people assumed it had to be about drug dealing - "pushing" drugs and then "coasting" away from the cops. Fiasco was adamant it had nothing to do with drugs.
In an interview with Hard Knock TV, Lupe cleared up those rumors, letting it be known that the song had nothing to do with drug dealing:
I think on the surface, you know what the songs are about at the end of the day. I don’t think it’s like a big mystery. It’s not like a riddle… It may take a little bit more digging to kinda get what the song’s about, but in its totality, it’s not something that you need to be a rocket scientist to kinda figure out. It’s people who still think ‘Kick Push’ is about drug dealing. I had a dude tell me he thought ‘Kick Push’ was about basketball, so you know who knows what people think at the end of the day.
He went on to explain that he did the song as a tribute for a skate shop. "It was never supposed to be a single, never meant to be a single," he said an interview with DJ Skee for SkeeTV. "It was for a skate shop called Uprise for a skate DVD, and then it just took a life of its own."
In an A.V. Club interview, Lupe explained how the song isn't from his point of view, but rather from another character's
“Kick, Push” isn’t about me. It’s about this kid by the name of Ken. He’s not even a kid, really, he’s in his 20s. That song is his life exaggerated with maybe a few stories of a few other people, and then some stuff I fabricated. I just added some of the stuff that I knew from being a skateboarder into it.
Lupe talked about its positive reception from the skating community and his discomfort with being dubbed a “spokesperson” after it took off because of its irrelevance to the album as a whole:
They love it. The OGs love it. The new kids, even the kids who weren’t skaters, who became skaters because of “Kick, Push.” [F]or the most part, it’s been good with people like Tony Hawk and Steve Williams. [But] I always shunned [being] at the top of skateboarding royalty, I’m with Tony Hawk and Steve Williams, and with these people and this company, but I was often like, “Yo, I don’t want to do this photo shoot with a skateboard.” What really killed me was that people were trying to pigeonhole me, and magazines would get mad because I didn’t want to do their photo shoot with a skateboard. Then when the album came out, people forgot about “Kick, Push.” The rest of the album had nothing to do with skateboarding. And they said, “Oh, now we see why you didn’t want to be the spokesperson for skateboarding.” The album had nothing to do with skateboarding. It was just little things like that.
"Kick, Push" describes the motion of how you skateboard, which can also be a metaphor for life: "Kick, push, kick, push and coast…"
As for the song's production, it was produced by Soundtrakk and features some amazing orchestral elements sampled from an incredibly obscure foreign track.
SAMPLE- Celeste Legaspi - Magtaksil Man Ikaw (Bolero Medley)
How they found this is beyond me. But there's a crazy backstabbing story regarding how Atlantic tried to purchase it in order to own the "Kick, Push" rights. Which Lupe later found out and recounted to Joe Budden
Complex - Lupe Fiasco has never shied away from discussing his distate for his former record label, Atlantic Records. Back in 2014 he famously said he "couldn't wait" to get out of his contract, eventually dropping his last project with the label, Tetsuo & Youth, the following year. In an Instagram Live stream with Joe Budden, Lupe opened up about his experiences with Atlantic even further, detailing a bizarre story on how they delayed the release of his breakthrough single "Kick, Push."
He said that some of the team at Atlantic had "actively slowed down" the record because they didn't entirely own the rights, prompting a particuarly sneaky move on their part. The beat for the track is built around a sample of Filipina singer Celeste Legaspi's 1982 song "Bolero Medley," so Atlantic allegedly tracked her down to buy the rights to that track so they could get the rights to "Kick, Push."
"You know what they did? They flew down to the Philippines to find the woman who we sampled the record from," he explained. "And bought the entire record from her. They actually own the song 'Kick, Push' is sampled from. That's what they did."