Lupe Fiasco – Food and Liquor

by Woody on December 7, 2006

Lupe Fiasco

Hype. Apperance. Hype. Hype. Leak. More Hype. Delay. Hype. Release. Such has been the arc for Chicago MC Lupe Fiasco. Following an apperance on standout track “Touch The Sky” on Kanye West’s sophomore disc, Late Registration, Fiasco, born Wasalu Jaco, seemed destined for the forefront of rap. Critics lauded his delivery and called for a solo disc, if not track. Soon, “Kick, Push” was released and quickly shot to the top of the TRL Countdown (yes, occasionally MTV gets it right) even before the CD, Food and Liquor, was even released.

The disc is everything that a modern post-Kanye West hip-hop album should be: well produced, musically complex, melodic, lyrically relevant, and catchy. Lupe has obviously spent time crafting lyrics to near perfection and they shine on nearly every track. Most of the topics reflect Lupe’s hard life growing up on the West Side of Chicago. Songs vary from the story of gangster killed in a drug deal gone wrong who rises from the dead to walk his streets again, “The Cool,” (He used his mouth as a shovel to try and hollow it/and when he couldn’t dirt spit he swallowed it/working like a hmm…reverse archaeologist/Except.. his buried treasure was sunshine), to a never identified item protected by locks, boxes, and combinations, “The Instrumental” (He protects the box, locks it in a box/when he goes to sleep, but he never sleeps/Cause he stays up to watch it, scared to look away/Cause at that moment, it might get stolen/And that’s the last of the boxes). “The Instrumental” must be the reason that Linkin Park has stopped writing rap/rock — they have been outdone by Lupe Fiasco on his first try. The backing beat, simple enough to follow in its rock influence, contains a punctuated 4 note guitar riff, a simple drum rock beat, double bass and all, and a tinkling piano melody. Even the chorus is sung by a breathy rocker. All these seemingly cliche and vapid music practices somehow combine into one of the most enjoyable tracks on Food and Liquor.

However, in its totality, Food and Liquor just feels too clean and often cluttered. Lupe’s rhymes are frequently covered and lost by the background of complicated beats and overly ornate strings. The polished sound has become far too ubiquitous with Chicago rappers. Lyrics fail to match up with the feel of the several beats and the disconnect leaves songs feeling hollow. With Kanye West proving that lyrics can match beats (see – “Drive Slow”, “Addiction”, “Spaceship”), it seems as though others have been unable to reach the bar that has been set so high. On the completely overwrought and highly disappointing “Pressure”, producers combine a horn section, southern piano, drum machine, Duran Duran keyboards, and for some reason a screaching hawk for the most confusing piece of music heard in a long time. Even Jay-Z’s verse, unimpressive for the Hov, cannot save this track from it’s awfulness.

The content of Food and Liquor merits a purchase, yet its delivery lacks any redeeming qualities. Ideally, Lupe will bounce back from this and produce both a lyrically amazing album (again) and backing tracks to match (DJ Hi-Tek, RJD2, even Kanye). However, we will probably have to wait through another 2 years and much hype, though it will significantly more reserved that time around.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Woody December 7, 2006 at 4:22 pm

I liked Lupe when I saw him at Lolla with Kanye. He has a nice flow but I agree with you regarding your 3rd paragraph. It’s good but just a little too polished to make it anything that’s going to have any staying power with me.

prettyindiangirl December 21, 2006 at 10:44 am

I read a lot of blogs about Lupe Fiasco’s album. I would just like to say that his album is the shit. I really like it. I could listen to it from beginning to end without skipping a beat. secondly, you can’t judge an album based off of one song. I saw a lot of people sayin dumb ass shit like “Lupe is whack because he raps about skateboarding.” If you really listen closely to the song, he uses it as a metaphor. But I guess some dummies wouldn’t know shit about reading between the lines.

Also, people need to understand that there is a difference between ‘rap’ and ‘hip-hip’. Niggas are used to rap, which mainly concerns money, cars, hustlin, and hoes. Hip-hop lyrics tend to not be as superficial as rap lyrics. Hip-hop is deeper than rap. Don’t get me wrong……I love rap music. Just understand the difference.

Bless'd May 7, 2007 at 6:49 am

When Ludacris wins best rap album over Lupe, then you know the death of hip hop has been certified. Listen to Luda’s album form start to finish (without skipping a track, which you will), and the listen to Lupes from start to finish (you will not skip a track), and tell me that Lupe is not one of the illest MC’S OF ALL TIME. The creativity, the storie, the content is unbelievably ridiculous. KRS said it best…Rappers rap about stuff mostly illegal, while MC’s rap to uplift the people. Anybody that says Lupe is whack is an idiot, uneducated, and blind. Top 5: Pac, Common, Nas, Talib, Lupe

Kingshit May 11, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Agreed with blessd and indiangirl.Lupe is genius..Enough said

CLRH January 8, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Yes, Lupe is very creative, and gifted lyrically. He is a sincere artist who has a purpose and internal drive and he is a real artist…..there is secular rap garbage that’s corporate controled and then theres alternative/concious hip hop….i so am for the latter……

liz April 21, 2008 at 4:31 am

Keep it up guys!

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