All I can say to begin this is that the kid is something special! Then again, I really knew that from the moment he spit his verse on Kanye's Touch The Sky. It had me asking who was that on the last verse of that track cause that boy is hot. His verse totally outshined Kanye on his own track. I knew he was on the verge of putting his own album out. Once I heard word that it was dropping sometime this summer, I was in anticipation ever since. The most anticipation that I have had for an album in a long time cause you knew that he was going to come with that hip hop you wanted to hear and longing for. It kept upsetting me when the release date got pushed back twice. It must have been that it was so hot that it kept leaking on the Internet. That's when you know you DO have something special.
Finally, Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor came out yesterday and I must say he did not disappoint and totally exceeded expectations. The whole album from start to finish is truly a blessing to the game and world of hip hop and if you are a fan of true music, this is a CD for you! Like the album cover suggests, he takes a lot of different elements & layers (thoughts and feelings) of himself and blends them into the center of his life and that is through the stereo for us to hear. He blends in a lot of styles, patterns and beats as he has the definite hip hop flavor along with some soulful blues, jazz and rock. I have not heard something like this in a long time if ever where he goes back to the roots of hip hop while all in the while he just has tremendous wordplay, creativity in the way he gives his tracks (the way he gives the story) with a great delivery and flow in where he starts slow but by the middle & end of verses he picks it up and goes real fast-paced (like 100 words a minute) as he gives you true, real hip hop. I'll be brief but just want to give you a background on the tracks.
It all starts with the intro which leads into Real, a strong emphasized start and great beginning as he tries to tell you that he's about to give you something REAL! Just Might Be OK is a pretty good track, and I think is saying that we might be ok if we start dealing the real in more ways than one (not just rap). Kick Push is one of the best singles of the year! Just imagine a young black man from the inner city rapping about skateboarding and making it tight! But there is the point that it was his way of escaping the harsh realities and negativity of where he grew up and the world. It was his coping mechanism, the same way writing is for me. It is how he deals with pain. Excellent song! Then comes probably one of my three favorite cuts on the album, I Gotcha. Pharrell produced this track and I love the beat as it is laced with a classical piano style. Lupe is just saying that look no further if you want the real (there is that word again) cause he's gotcha. The Instrumental is a song I heard off Madden and just love it(produced by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, another favorite of mine). Still trying to figure out the concept, but I get that it is hip hop in general mocking itself and the negatives of society and just saying redundant stuff and taking away their own voices, and all you have left is the beat which leaves you with just an instrumental. If that is it, ingenious! He Say She Say is a song we can not talk about enough when it comes to this issue and that is absentee fathers in the hood/black community. It is a mother and son (might be Lupe himself) talking to the father trying to get him to be the man he is suppose to be and be there for his son. There should be no wonder why young black men are dying or being locked up cause no one was there to show the way. As Lupe says, there was no positive male role model to play football with or to build railroad models. One last deep lyric was that saying that his mom was his #1 fan: But it's like your booing from the stands (the father) and you know the world is out to get me/ So won't you give me a chance. The world is definitely out to get blacks especially black men and prey on the young ones, even moreso when they have no sense of direction. They can get aggressive cause there is no one there to calm them and tell them how to channel their feelings which can lead to disaster. Very heartfelt track and I love how the two R&B singers (Sarah Green and Gemini) go back and forth with the chorus at the end as if they were trying to reach each other like parents would in that case. Sunshine is a great track for women that does not degrade them none so ever where he compares a certain one to all that takes up space in the sky and universe. Very nice! Daydreamin' with Jill Scott is just down right creative. It hits home on how hip hop has become one big daydream in the sense that you can write yourself in your own image and make it look street but it not really be you so you can sell records and how videos & lifestyles of most of these rappers has become fiction with all the cars, clothes, houses, guns and women they say they have in glorifying material things. One of the best tracks! Period. The Cool, produced by Kanye, gives a situation where someone rises from the dead to review the life they lived and that's trying to be gangsta for whatever reason. As Lupe I believes tries to deliver, living that lifestyle and trying to look and act cool only leads to an early meeting with the grave. Another splendid and creative track! Hurt Me Soul is another one of those soulful tracks and I song I can relate to again. He speaks not just us as fans, but even himself getting sucked into the way hip hop has become and letting it go on. But only with him, it hurts him so cause he knows hip hop can be more if we all just reached deeper. But he relays that about the world in how all the things that have went down have penetrated our ways and affected us. The Pressure with Jay-Z is a great track, and it doesn't even crack my top five (And I one of the biggest Hov fans). That should tell you how great this album is right there where a track with Jay doesn't outshine a lot of songs. American Terrorists has a kind of different sound to it as it sounds like an African-type of beat with its drum patterns and sort of flutes in the back. The deal with this song is how we are dealing with terrorists in our communities with the police and our own country with the government and how we need to become terrorists to them by learning all we can with our education cause that is the truly the only way we can fight back. Outstanding message that he delivers! The Emperor's Soundtrack and Kick Push II end off the album (both great tracks) and he puts his shout-outs and thank yous on wax instead of in the back of the booklet as he goes on for about 11 minutes. Kind of long, but nice touch! (I know this was long, but bare with me cause there was so much to tell about this album that I tried to shorten it as much as I could but still give you things that could make you see that this album is a must have. Tryin' to influence and sell you on something so rare in these times.)
In the end, this whole product just works, man! The beats, the production, the blend, the writing, the stories and concepts. This is where the whole is DEFINITELY greater than the sum of its parts because it all adds up to make a must-have album. We all have been looking to get back to some down-to-earth, not fantasy, but true real hip hop. Lupe has help show the way along with a couple of others like Little Brother and Kanye to an extent. It's almost totally clean as well as he curses maybe 10-11 times through the whole album and it is still a hot product (flashback to the days of Rakim perhaps). How many rap artists can pull that off? And Jay-Z (not Shawn Carter, but Jay-Z; inspiration for a comeback? Hmmm. Pretty much.) executive produced this without Lupe being on Def Jam which should tell you something as well. This is an instant classic in my opinion, definitely in my top 25 favorite rap albums. This is almost a 100% shoe-in for rap album of the year, most definitely new artist of the year! Mostly it takes a couple of listens to a CD before I know I love it, but I knew off the bat what my outcome and judgment was like I did for Blueprint, Stillmatic, The Minstrel Show and others like it in the past few years when great hip hop has dwindled. Simply loved it! Truly a gem and jewel amongst a lot of trash. I also finally found someone in the hip hop game I can truly relate to these days. If you are into Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Common, Nas, Rakim, the deep side of Pac, KRS-ONE, Little Brother in some ways and even Jay in some ways or just looking for a touch of the real, go out and get this album: NOW!