‘Tetsuo & Youth’ a solid album, but no swan song
Lupe Fiasco’s “Tetsuo & Youth” is a mixture of old patterns and new collaborations that make for a solid album, but a disappointing swan song. Arriving amid Fiasco’s frustration with Kid Cudi and Atlantic Records, the album doesn’t lose its shine but is an odd way to potentially end a musical career that seems far from over.
Conceptually, the album allows Lupe to step out of his comfort zone, but there are songs — “Blur My Hands” and “Little Death” — characterized by a generic singer in the chorus, a smooth baseline, organic percussion and satisfactory verses. Though the tracks themselves aren’t awful, they’re something Lupe has definitely done before and don’t fit on what might be his last album.
In “Tetsuo & Youth,” Lupe focuses on personal issues and things he saw growing up in Chicago. “Prisoner 1 & 2” is a binary of ideologies and instrumentals through which Lupe speaks about rigid prison life and the constant racism between black Americans and the police.
Lupe’s lyricism in “Mural,” topping the track’s music, is the best instrumental the album has to offer. In the song, Lupe raps freely for nine minutes straight. Adding to the creative concept, Lupe places the beautifully-produced tracks “Summer,” “Fall,” “Winter” and “Spring” throughout the album, with each interlude setting the mood for the next group of songs.
Some of the album’s more disappointing songs may be attributed to the issues with Atlantic Records. “Tetsuo & Youth” has the qualities of a good album, but it would be a disappointing close to a great career.