Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 00:10
After a disastrous third album, Lupe Fiasco declares, “Now this Lupe version four,” on his new album Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album.
Fiasco’s third album Lasers was a nauseous mix of record label mandated club singles and empty synthesizers. Fiasco rapped like a man on death row shuffling to the cafeteria for another grim meal.
With Food & Liquor II, Fiasco is finally able to exercise some creative freedom, schooling us on his favorite topics like drone strikes and careless women. With Kanye West off being The Thin White Duke, and Common in the midst of a serious identity crisis, Fiasco is one of the last Chicago MCs to try to speak to the ills of the streets—though sometimes his language is as clunky and flat as a pro-abstinence pamphlet.
“Strange Fruition” is a strong start, showing the raw anger and hard beats that Lasers buried under mountains of cheese. Musically and lyrically, Fiasco isn’t pulling his punches, sweating to deliver the expected hooks and simultaneously shore up his truth-telling credentials.
Working in his comfort zone of sticking sickly sweet strings and horns to an 808, Lupe’s stable of slick producers manage to rise to his solid but inconsistent standard.
Case in point: “Cold War,” which pulls off an ambitious blend of icy production and mournful tone, is a truly touching meditation on the brother he lost and his slow climb to acceptance. Over four albums, Lupe still hasn’t decided whether to give us pain or pleasure. But at least he’s giving us something.