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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Hip-hop artist’s lyrical genius proves successful with new album

For most, Lupe Fiasco, born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, is a fresh face in mainstream hip-hop. His debut album, Food ‘ Liquor, was highly acclaimed by critics. Despite Food ‘ Liquor’s positive response, Fiasco faced the inevitable pressure of a career-crippling sophomore slump because of the high expectations of critics and fans alike. Luckily, Fiasco knows how to turn that pressure into a great hip-hop album.

Fiasco’s The Cool, his second full-length album, released Tuesday on Atlantic/1st and 15th, is partly a concept album loosely based on a song of the same name found on Food ‘ Liquor. The new album expands on ideas presented in the song, describing a parentless boy who is raised by two new "parents," The Streets, as the mother, and The Game, as the father.

In an interview with Pitchfork Media, Fiasco delved further into the concept behind The Cool.

"The Streets is a female. She’s like the action personification of the streets, the street life, the call of the streets. The Game is the same way. The Game is the personification of the game," Fiasco said.

The Cool, another character on the album, has a love affair with The Streets while he is on the rise to fame and fortune, and the album considers the privileges ("Gold Watch") and consequences ("Streets on Fire") of them.

The backbone of the album is Fiasco’s lyrical ability, his strongest asset. His complex and intellectual flow is the factor that sets him above and apart from other mainstream artists.

After two intros, the latter of which, "Free Chilly," is a very soulful and soothing way to begin the record, comes the first song on the album, "Go Go Gadget Flow," through which Fiasco showcases his impeccable flow in double time. Other songs such as "Hip-hop Saved My Life" and "Streets on Fire" are dark and fast-paced, allowing Fiasco to demonstrate his lyrical prowess.

While Fiasco’s Food ‘ Liquor featured production and guest spots from many big names in hip-hop, including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Jill Scott and The Neptunes, The Cool is an exhibition of artists on 1st and 15th, a record label co-founded by Fiasco himself.

With production from Soundtrakk and Chris ‘ Drop, both of whom were producers on his debut, and guest vocals from Matthew Santos, Sarah Green and Gemstones (formerly Gemini), Fiasco’s label should prove to be breeding ground for upcoming talent.

Some of the album’s finest moments are "Little Weapon," and "Dumb it Down." Patrick Stump, who most people recognize as the vocalist for pop-punk act Fall Out Boy, surprisingly produced "Little Weapon." Stump stepped away from the microphone and got behind the mixers for this track, which is a hard-hitting social commentary about videogame violence versus real-life violence.

"Dumb it Down," the album’s first street single and one of the strongest tracks, is a tongue-in-cheek about the state of hip-hop and the music industry, in which Fiasco ends the song with a biting and witty lyric, "They try to make me come down cousin / but I flatly refuse / I ain’t dumb down nothing."

With The Cool, Fiasco will make a steady name for himself in the hip-hop genre and has put lyrical hip-hop back on the map. The record is cohesive and well crafted; with minimal filler (there are 19 tracks, 17 of which are actual songs) and intellectual lyrics.

Unfortunately for Fiasco, the praise will be short-lived as he plans to release one more album under the name LupEND in 2008. After that he says he will call it quits. Let’s just hope he changes his mind like Jay-Z.

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