It’s an event many UCSB students have been waiting for: One of hip hop’s most popular commercial artists infecting radio today, Lupe Fiasco, will be playing at UCSB’s Thunderdome on Monday evening, in a concert sponsored by A.S. Program Board.

The Chicago-born musician has gained notoriety for his lyrics, which reinvent hip-hop narratives or defy them altogether, as well as his high-profile collaborations with some of the industry’s best-selling figures, from Kanye West (“Touch the Sky”) to Linkin Park member Mike Shinoda’s Fort Minor project.

Jay-Z may be one of the artist’s biggest fans, but Lupe Fiasco is not content to follow in his mentor’s footsteps.

The result is staggering: His albums have been beloved by both fans and critics alike, no small feat in today’s music industry.

The times, they are a changin’, after all: With Lupe Fiasco in the mix, mainstream hip hop is no longer dominated by unimaginative rhymes about bling, pimp juice and endorsements.

It’s been a busy year for the 26-year-old rapper (full name: Wasalu Muhammed Jaco), as he’s been working on a follow-up album, his third, to 2007’s popular The Cool.

If the Gauchos are lucky, he may play some material from this forthcoming concept album, LupE.N.D., which is set for release sometime early next year. In a concert in Chicago a couple of days ago, he announced it will be his final album.

Tickets to the event are available for the 8 p.m. at the A.S. Box Office for students for $23 in advance, or you can wait until the day of the show to purchase tickets for $28.