Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Take Five: Lupe Fiasco's Albums

In honor of the release of Lupe Fiasco's latest, and perhaps last, hip hop album: Tetsuo and Youth, we will rank the discography of one of the most talented MCs ever! So, without further ado, let show go on!


Rating: 3 out 5 Mics.
Be it Atlantic's attempt at trying to make Lupe a household name, or Mr. Fiasco's disenchantment with the music industry ,there is a  pretty general consensuses that Lasers is his "weakest" album. Now Fiasco's weakest attempts are stronger than most artists' greatest achievements. But an act like Lupe is held to a higher standard!Songs such as Coming Up and I Don't Want to Care Right Now  are desperate attempts at mass appeal, the very opposite of what Fiasco displayed on the now classic track Dumb it Down. Even songs that had that signature Lu commentary, such as Beautiful Lasers [2 Ways] and State Run Radio, were hampered by contrived choruses and the use of auto-tune (Ugh).This is not to say that the album is void of bright spots. All Black Everything  and Words I  Never Said are strong additions to Lu's catalog!

Rating 4 out of 5 Mics
Positioning your album as the sequel to an arguable classic can set the bar, as well as the  listeners expectations, quite high. It is a lofty feat that usually results in a lukewarm reception, Blue Print 2 ring a bell? However, Food and Liquor 2 presents a somewhat "return to form" for Mr. Fiasco. LU  commences to use his scalpel as a sledgehammer when it comes to dissecting the contradictions, sins, and maladies of America. Whether he's tackling religious hypocrisy in Lamborghini Angles, chastising the current musical landscape in ITAL (Roses), or challenging the reigns of  self responsibility ,when it comes to the formation of misogynistic imagery, in Bitch Bad, Lupe is clicking on all cylinders! My only complaint is that midway through the album, it starts to become musically redundant. Tracks such as Battle ScarsBrave Heart and Form Follows Function tend to blend together to the point that the selections sound like one continuous track, outside slight  audio variances and subject matter of course. Lu also gets a bit lazy on Cold War as well. Perhaps this may have been done intentionally due to the topic at hand.  Some profess that this album came off preachy. Well I for one felt that  the message was timely and relevant. In fact, it was indeed  a breath of fresh air after the poorly received LASERS.


Rating 4.25 out of 5 Mics
Perhaps the most difficult Lupe offering to grade, Tetsuo and Youth is by far his most ambitious album. Fortunately, his risk is  mostly our reward! Sonically, it is the best album that Lu Carrera has crafted and lyrically, he is at his Apex. So why isn't this album ranked higher?  Well, Tetsuo and Youth can be compared to a favorable abstract painting: you can appreciate it for its' merits and the ability to formulate your own interpretation. However, due to its' nature, the full value may be difficult to ascertain for the mere fact that it is  indeed, abstract. Though Lu's lyrical dexterity is on full display, Mural is nothing less than epic and Deliver,  along with Madonna, are quite blistering to say the least, the perplexing, or thought provoking, nature of his lyrics take away the joy of being able to be fully immersed in some songs.  Tracks such as Little Death and Body of Work are beautifully arranged!  However, even after multiple listens or ,in this case studies, one can grow frustrated at the attempt of trying to derive meaning from what is being presented. Is this evidence of a masterpiece, or pretentiousness under the guise of art? Whatever the case, this is the most opaque that Mr. Fiasco has ever been!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Mics
Ah, our introduction to Mr. Wasalu Muhammad Jaco. After teething on his Fahrenheit 1/15 mixtape series, we were all salivating at the idea of all out offering from The Coolest *****. And boy, we were not disappointed! Lu offered something fresh to the game! He was part Tribe Called Quest, part Blackstar,  1/4 of Nas and an ounce of Jay, my math may be off but hey, I was an English major! Lu truly showed he was a conglomerate of all that was good in hip hop. Kick Push showed his ability to create multiple surfaces when it came to expression. The Cool showed us a preview of his uncanny story telling ability while Sunshine gave us a peak at his sensitive side. However, Lu shined brightest when he daftly tackled social issues with  such tracks as American Terrorist, He Said... She Said and Daydreaming. Hurt Me Soul, however, has to be Lu's crowning achievement ,which contains one of his greatest verses backed by a moving Needlez beat. Even classics can have missteps though.The Instrumental has never been one of my favorite tracks, and Real had to grow on me as well .But even with those blips, Food and Liquor is indeed a benchmark in Hip Hop.

5 out 5 Mics

Well that wasn't too suspenseful was it?  When the only flaw on your album is the pitch of a sample ( Gold Watch) then you really are looking at an unprecedented opus! Lupe demonstrated that he not just merely attempts a type of song, but  could also master it as well! You want a crossover hit that will be used in countless commercials? Well here's Superstar! Want a pulse pounding rock song? Enter: Hello Goodbye. How about a whimsical tale peppered with social commentary? Well I guess you Gotta Eat. A song that is too "gangsta" to show remorse? Boom, Put You on Game. And the list goes on and on! On top of that, this album  also contains a conceptual  narrative, one in which I won't spoil. Unlike TetsuoThe Cool successfully weaves the abstract with the accessible. Are there some intricate moving parts here? Absolutely! But you  will realize that  finding the pathway to understanding isn't as murky as his latest album. Also, Lupe is able to evoke great emotion and empathy from the touching tale of Hip Hop Save My Life  to the cautionary anecdotes of Intruder Alert. The album accomplishes what every artist seeks to achieve: balance! Such a feat has positioned The Cool as not just the best Lupe Fiasco album, but the best hip hop album in the last fourteen years!

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