Monday, 26 November 2012

Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 - ALBUM REVIEW

I was wondering what album to talk about first in this new blog that i have just started working on and i realized that i must discuss an album that has been released recently that i have enjoyed. I have to admit this year hasn't been the best year for rap albums. Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday sequel was very disappointing, Meek Mill's "Dreams & Nightmares" wasn't that good as well as Tyga's Careless World, and some anticipated albums like Rick Ross's "God Forgives, I Don't" and the G.O.O.D. Music compilation "Cruel Summer" were only mediocre. There were however great rap albums such as Ab-Soul's "Control System", Nas's "Life Is Good", and Kendrick Lamar's modern classic "good kid, m.A.A.d city" but the disappointments seemed to outweigh the better efforts. 

To me however, the most anticipated album was the sequel to the 2006 classic "Food & Liquor" by the acclaimed Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco. Now, i don't believe that was a good enough introduction to one of the most promising and most lyrical rappers out there. Ever since his debut, Lupe Fiasco has placed his mark on Hip-Hop as one of the best lyricists in the game. "Food & Liquor" was a groundbreaking album that not only won the hearts of critics but fans alike. What made it so special was that it wasn't him rapping about the usual topics we are exposed to now such as money, girls, and drugs but he was discussing touching subjects such as fatherless childhoods (He Say She Say), the stamps placed on religion and Islam (American Terrorist), becoming addicted to the television and how it corrupts the mind (The Instrumental), and many others. His storytelling abilities were so masterful you could easily picture his stories and be able to live the tragedies he's talking about. For example, in the song "The Cool", Lupe Fiasco talks about the life of a gangster resurrected from his grave and encountering the society he grew up in after his death. Even when placed in a song with the legendary A-list rapper Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco was able to hold his own and even out-rap him (my opinion).

By the time his sophomore album "The Cool" came out in 2007, people became thirsty for more of his genius, and Lupe delivered another classic.The production was mainly handled by long time collaborator Soundtrakk giving the album a very raw sound. While the single "Superstar" was a Billboard commercial hit, he was able to not sell out by placing hard hitting songs on the album such as "The Coolest", "Hip-Hop Saved My Life", "Little Weapon", and one of my all time favorites: "Dumb It Down". He shows more of his storytelling side of rapping and his growth as a rapper is obviously developed. "The Cool" helped bring Lupe to a more wide-spread audience but also maintaining his lyrical skill. 

Unfortunately, when Lupe dropped his third album "Lasers", critics and fans were divided and confused on how such a genius rapper could sell-out. They claimed that the production was more pop oriented, and that his lyrics were dumbed down to become more appealing to an even wider audience. While Lupe claimed that the record label forced him to release the album the way we have it now, people still criticized the album anyway. Now personally, even though the album wasn't as strong as his previous efforts, i believe he was still able to put out some really great songs (All Black Everything for example) and still keep the same message flowing. 

So here we are. Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album. I tried not to make myself over-hyped for this album in fear of being disappointed. But ever since the singles "Around My Way" and "Bitch Bad" dropped earlier this year, i couldn't wait for the album to drop. So on September 25th, i went out and bought the CD and finally listened to the highly anticipated album...

With this album, i can definitely say that Lupe Fiasco was able to bring back what made him famous. He brings back all the elements and the lyrical content we are used to and puts them all in a modern masterpiece. "Strange Fruition" paints a word picture of poverty life and how people's lives are affected by racism. "ITAL (Roses)" has an up-beat instrumental and it discusses different issues such as women rights as well as expressing his political views. "Audubon Ballroom" shows how Lupe feels about the usage of the "N" word and the effects it has had on society. "Bitch Bad" shows how he feels the word "Bitch" has been misused in society and how children are affected by its usage in music everyday. The album continues to show his strength as a rapper but once the song "Heart Donor" comes along is were i feel the album kinda went down...just a little bit though! I didn't really see Lupe rapping about love as effective here as it did in "Paris Tokyo" on "The Cool" and "Sunshine" on "Food & Liquor". The album is then saved on track 13 (which is ironic in a way); "Form Follows Function". In this song, Lupe shows us what he's made of rapping over a smooth instrumental with a saxophone playing in the back spitting metaphors and double or triple entendres everywhere. It reminded me of his flow on "The Cool" and how it sounded similar to "Dumb It Down". "Cold War" shows an emotional side of Lupe, "Unforgivable Youth" shows the fierce side of Lupe, and "Hood Now" presents a fitting ending to an excellent album.

Lupe Fiasco definitely saved 2012 for rap albums this year. He brought all the different elements and techniques he has perfected over the years and put them in a triumphant come-back album. With the first half of "The Great American Album" released, i cannot wait for the second half to come out next year. I highly recommend you check out this album because it has all the elements that make a great rap album.

Favorite Tracks:

Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free) - Form Follows Function - Lamborghini Angels - Bitch Bad - Unforgivable Youth - Strange Fruition

Least Favorite Tracks:

Heart Donor - How Dare You - Braveheart - Battle Scars


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