It has been awhile since I’ve actually sat down and wrote an actual music review, but the latest album by Lupe Fiasco has intrigued me enough to dust off the review pen. Lupe’s last album Lasers was filled with push backs, protests, and songs that he didn’t like/was forced to create, and last but not least, he was told by the higher ups to turn the complex rapping down a notch. Lupe has returned with Food and Liquor 2 The Great American Rap Album Pt 1, the title suggests that he is trying to go back to how it all began, but the music suggests that he read a different manual.
The album begins with a spoken word piece by Lupe’s sister Ayesha, similar to what was presented on The Cool. Once again I was left empty listening to her work, as the imagery was noticeably absent. I sat there thinking to myself what song I was going to replace it with on my playlist.
Strange Fruition featuring Casey Benjamin – The title alone had me excited to hear the song, and I was not left disappointed. Closing my eyes and letting the song soak in, it was like a 2012 “Strange Fruit” by Nina Simone in my opinion especially with the hook, as well as the end having her kind of vibe. Lupe paints a picture of his personal views and the scenes around him with lines like “the belly of the beast the streets are demons abs/ I’m telling you that setup in them sit-ups is so sad” and “Be a slave at first or free at last” man this track has so many quotable lines and as a whole is a top notch track.
Ital (Roses) – As this track played, I gained a firm grasp of the current Lupe Fiasco as an artist, one who is going to use his fame to make others aware that all the gardens in the world are not filled with “roses.” As the horns blend in my ears I hoped that 2 Chainz, Juicy J or some current artist that doesn’t rap about anything positive would jump on the track and do a complete 360, but it didn’t happen. The song is good, but like other songs that fit this formula it doesn’t provide us with answers. How are we going to get our youth to change and see that they are going down the negative path if all we do is point out the obvious?
Around my way (Freedom Ain’t Free) – I always felt this track was doomed from the start. This song was attached to controversy not because of the lyrics but because of the beat which was used on a classic Hip-Hop song “T.R.O.Y” by Pete Rock and CL Smooth. There was the back and forth regarding respect, credit, etc., which led to the song as a whole getting lost in the shuffle of things. As a fan of the original song that’s all I kept thinking about. It was a risky move to use the beat in the first place, especially for a first single.
Audubon Ballroom – Besides the horrible hook, this song is on point. The Autobahn ballroom was the place Malcolm X was assassinated and as the song played it felt like a speech, something that can be presented in front of all age groups and be effective. Lupe rhymes with extreme comfort on this track as he spits “Black Panthers black anthem black blues with black answers for black stanzas Langston Hughes.” The past is always needed to go forward.
Bitch Bad – When I first heard this track I was like “has Lupe gone mad?!” but as I gave it more listens I loved it. “Now I ain’t tryna make it too complex.” The video made the message even stronger, and every parent should get a copy of the song. Children repeat what they see and they don’t know if it’s good or bad. These are the type of songs that should be on the radio.
Lamborghini Angels – This track touches on exorcism, lobotomy, the Catholic Church and pedophilia. Though I think this track is good I would have preferred three different tracks that touch each topic, allowing an expansion of his thoughts, or at least some type of explanation as to why he decided to make a song about all three.
Put Em Up – Now this is my “Form Follows Function!!” (I will get to that later) “But I Rap-A-Lot like the Kings son” (get it, Prince Paul Rap A Lot records??) I will honestly say it took about 5 listens to catch the part because I was constantly being hit with wordplay after wordplay. While listening to the album I desperately wanted to hear that rawness from a Lupe, that I’m light years ahead of you Lupe and he finally he let it loose. Straight lyric wise not many can keep up. My finger was constantly hitting rewind when I heard “keep ’em in the air like a swan wing and I’m a keep it magic like a Harry Potter wand swing” and “from Game one to the Super like Karrine dome.”
Heart Donor featuring Poo Bear – Simply put. Top ten worst songs I have ever heard in my life. FYI Poo Bear also appears on the end of “Bitch Bad.”
How Dare You featuring Bilal – Maybe Bilal should have been on “Heart Donor” and it would have been better. This is a great pick me up /love song that I feel would do well as a single.
Battle Scars featuring Guy Sebastian – Cut from the Maroon 5 cloth, Battle Scars would have worked better with B.O.B on it (who probably had the song first). Decent song but it’s more like battle scratches, wanted a stronger story out of what was put together.
Braveheart featuring Poo Bear – “I feel good about this one here!” shouts Lupe, and so do I. This could be a wake up song, gym song or even an entrance song for a boxer. The nothing from something story gets a face lift. “That was Lupe number 1, now this version number 4.”
Form Follows Function – Now this song a few months back Lupe spoke on it as if it was the best song ever. “It’s a monster, nobody’s fucking with that, I’ll just put it out there, any other records I’ll give other rappers and musicians that could possibly do a better job, but “Form Follows Function” rappers ain’t fucking with that.” Sad to say, but along with himself, I can name 6-7 other rappers that can create better songs in their sleep. Speaking of sleep, one of Lupe’s songs “Go to Sleep” feels like the final cut of “Forms Final Function.” It’s 2012; you can set it off like something else other than Vivica.
Cold War featuring Jane – If I was to pick one issue with Lupe Fiasco, its that I rarely hear any personal songs from him; issues that he goes through. On “Cold War” he speaks on the loss of a friend and the emotion rings out. I would like to hear more personal songs from him, and rappers in general. Far too often their most personal songs are the second or third to last song on the album, but those songs are generally their best song.
Unforgivable Youth featuring Jason Evigan – Lupe speaks on the pillaging of land and the removal of people that were already there. Songs like this separate Lupe from other mainstream rap artists because he brings subjects that tend to be covered up to light.
Hood Now – Something about this song made me cling to it upon first listen. There is a simplicity that is similar to “Bitch Bad” that he experiments with that works at first, but I don’t know if it was wise to have the anaphora of “Hood Now” throughout the whole song.
Food and Liquor 2 in no shape or form should be compared to its predecessor. The original had too much originality, creativity and the lyrical content was much crisper. What this album did however is show his growth as an artist, and show his ability to bring social issues to light, something that many Hip-Hop artists do not. It felt like he was trying to combine Lasers and Food and Liquor, but it was poorly done. Overall, it’s a great listen with some missteps.
Food and Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album pt 1 receives a PARL
Also Check Out:
Cruel Summer – G.O.O.D. Music album review