by Kimia G.
Lupe Fiasco’s new album, Food and Liqueur II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. I, will give you food for thought, but little to toast to.
It’s a dark album that emphasizes class disparities and the convoluted state of the media, as well as the way a certain type of woman is portrayed and revered, especially when it comes to the fashion industry .
Lupe Fiasco comes through once again with his uncanny ability to merge hooks and strong lyrics.
This album will take a few listens to get the full scope of what he’s saying, and it gets better the more you hear it.
There are some interesting pop culture references in some lines, such as in “Form Follows Function,” where Angelina Jolie and Chuck E. Cheese make a brief appearance But the songs aren’t about dropping beats and hashtagging the world into a series of clever mentions.
Lupe Fiasco focuses on building a message rather than building a reputation.
He isn’t rapping from the back of a stretch limo, with two models on either side of him, about to conquer the next nightclub. (Well, until Pitbull decides to remix one of these songs. But even Pitbull would find it difficult to usurp “Bitch Bad” with his ubiquitous “¡Dale!”)
The real strength of the album comes from the witty turn of words that overlays one disenfranchised voice over another in the first single of the album, “Around My Way.” It really is the masterpiece of the album, a poetic war chant whose lines pull from what’s “in between the lines” of media jargon. Is your news feed, your Twitter feed, progressively becoming chicken feed? The only thing that takes the edge off this one is the sweet saxophone hook, sampled from a 1992 Pete Rock and CL Smooth song.
There are a number of collaborations on the album, the most notable of which including Guy Sebastian, an Australian singer on “Battle Scars.”
On “How Dare You,” Lupe features Bilal, a singer from New York, Jane $$$ on “Cold War,” and vocals from Jason Evigan—the lead singer of After Midnight Project—on “Unforgivable Youth.” He also features Poo Bear (also called MDMA) on “Heart Donor,” and “Brave Heart.” Poo Bear/MDMA was previously featured on “Coming Up” on his 2011 album, Lasers.
You won’t see as much of the infectious pop presence as in Lasers, though “Heart Donor” does have a more light-hearted tone than the rest of the album.
Overall, there’s less subtlety in the lyrics and music this time around. You won’t find the ambient chorus and mastery of subtle ironic verses of old favorites “Daydreamin’” “Fighters,” “Kick, Push,” and “Superstar,” here.
In these past songs, Lupe was able to marry advocacy and artistry, avoiding weighty, pedantic verses. In Food & Liqeur II, the weapons of choice are more blunt, more about straight up shock value and controversy.
The gateway song to this album is probably his past single, “Words I Never Said,” with Skylar Grey. This latest work is all about those words he wanted to say, but never could. The sentiment on the album definitely tends towards the more serious tracks “Little Weapon,” “Dumb it Down,” and “Words I Never Said.”
Though Lupe Fiasco is an opinionated artist, he is somewhat more abrasive in this new album. But better to be abrasive than apathetic, indignant rather than indolent.
Whether his latest project is the next great American rap album is up to you, but it’s fair to say it stands a chance as a contender.