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This review is from: Lupe Fiasco's the Cool (Audio CD)
If You like Hip Hop about cars and money look elsewhere but if you like intelligent Hip Hop with a thought behind look no further. Lupe Fiasco is not trying to prove any street credability, infact he grow up middle class and he's not doing anything to prove the opposite. Instead he let his lyrics do the talking. Lupe belongs to that exclusive group of rappers that don't sell records because of image but cause of what they talk about. Lupe Fiasco's debut album "Food & Liquour" that came out last year had everything you could ask for. Good lyrics that dealt with everthing from social problems to his passion for skateboards and samples from the most obscure sources that made it an amazing listening experience aswell. That is what Hip Hop is all about. On his sophmore album we find less big producers like Kanye, Neptunes and Needlz but Soundtrack who produced some songs on his debut got a big role here and is featured on 2/3 of the songs while producers Chris & Drop also made a few beats. The album is simular to his debut in sound but is a concept album partly based on the song "The Cool" from "Food & Liquour" that told the story about a gangsta that was killed and buried but got a second chance to come back to life but instead of changing his life he goes back to his old neighbourhood and makes the same mistakes again. This man called "The Cool" becomes a character here and the story is expanded with the introduction of three others. The Streets, a female and the Game both persons that steretypically represent exactly that and then the fictional up and coming rapper "Michael History". Apart from all of these fascinating conceptual stories, Lupe deals with a vast number of issues like society problems, decline of Hip Hop but also alot of positive stuff. Well, It's for you do find out!.
The album starts with a short intro called "Baba Says it's Cool Thought" where Iesha Jaco (his siter?) talk about current issues like Hurricane Katrina, Virgina Tech and gentrification of the projects. That intro is followed by another one called "Free Chilly" with Sarah Green and GemStones that kind of seques into the following song "Go Go Gadget low", finally the album starts!. Lupe raps so fast he almost sounds like Chamillionaire on this song that feature strings and a popular sample. Good start. On the somber piano sounding title track "The Coolest" the concept comes into play and Lupe's storytelling is absolutely perfect. "Superstar" is perhaps the best song and feature Matthew Santos, a budget Chris Martin singing the hook. A rather slow song where Lupe deals with his recent fame and how tough it is to be the superstar people want him to be. The Jazzy and mellow "Paris/Tokyo" is basically about travel and exploring diffrent cultures, pretty good song that alot of people will enjoy. "Hi-Defination" with guests Snoop Dogg and Pooh Bear (singer) got a nice sample and Lupe dealing with contemporary issues. Snoop raps over Pooh Bears hook but I don't understand the point with his guest verse with doesn't say much. "Gold Watch" is about fame and what happens to you when you get too much of it. The sample here can be seen as artistic cause there's a group of people talking as the source of sample but it also gets tiresome to listen to it, taking away to focus from the lyrics. The song about Michael History who dreams about becoming a rapper is called "Hip Hop Saved Mt Life" and feature Nikke Jean a Fergie clone and a slow piano melody. It's a poignant story that is simular to the story from "Hustle and Flow".
A simular sounding song is "Intruder Alert" with a welcome comeback from Sarah Green. A true highlight where Lupe deals with three outkasts of the society, a raped woman, a drug addict and a poor immigrant that hope he won't get deported. One of the best Hip Hop songs of the year. Matthew Santos is back on "Streets Of Fire" with a really good beat. Lupe talks about a desease with no cure but I'm not sure exactly what he's talking about. "Little Weapon" withh Nikki Jean again was produced by the singer from Fall Out Boy and is more rock oriented but surprisingly good. The lyrics deal with kids using weapons and he makes all kind of examples, once again Lupe shows he's both knowledgable and a great storyteller. More about the album concept on "Gotta Eat" which is very artistic with diffrent arrangements. "Dumb It Down" pokes fun of contemporary Hip Hop and is quite funny with word playing and metaphors. "Hello/Goodbye (Uncool) is Rap-Rock with hard hitting drums and Unkle (the producer) singing backround vocals. "The Die" continues the concept, and is much darker song then most others. Lupe rap fast like Chamillionaire again, More with "Put You On The Game" that sounds like 90's gangsta rap with a really tough context. "Fighters" with Santos is about archiving your dreams and Lupe sends a greeting to all his fans for the support he got and also a salute to his father that died earlier this year. "Go Baby" the closer is the song for his girl? It got a great sound to it but feel kinda un-serious though but the wordplay is funny and it further show the diversity of this album.
Overall, there is alot of complexity is this concept cause it takes several listens before you truly get the point and can put together the pieces. I still haven't been able to analyze all of the songs at this point. There's also plenty of songs that aren't incorperated into the concept which makes it all even harder to grasp. On the other hand, Lupe offers a wide variation of sounds, flows and themes and the lyrics here are some of the smartest I've heard this year. With this sophmore effort Lupe Fiasco maintain himself more then ever as one of the finest lyricists and most versatile emcee's around and the enormous multitude of sounds here make "The Cool" end up on par with Talin Kweli's "Ear Drum" and Common's "Finding Forever" as the best alternative Hip Hop albums this year. Unfortunately, Lupe Fiasco has stated that that in 2008 he will close the trilogy with an album called "LupeEnd" and then he will retire as a performer. Will see about that, but enjoy this man as long as he is around and make sure to check this one out cause it's too good to be missed.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 18, 2007 3:19:03 AM PST
Wynne R. Phillips says:
Great review! I'm going to have to buy this. I saw the video for "Superstar" this morning and I was very impressed with his flow. I also really like the attitude in "Dumb It Down." Looking forward to hearing what you think of Mary's new one, too.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2007 5:54:19 AM PST
Thanks W.E, If you liked his debut album you're probably gonna like this one too, a purchase is not a bad choise at all. Lupe's diversity in the diffrent songs here is amazing, his flow in "Superstar" for instance is a step-up from what you thought was possible. There's a video made for "Dumb It Down" now also, and it's quite cool. Check it out. I'll try to squeeze in a Mary review by tomorrow but during xmas days, time is not of the essence. Thanks again!.
Posted on Dec 18, 2007 7:57:42 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2007 7:58:11 AM PST
C. Mathew says:
Good review Joseph. I gotta agree with you, this is a stellar sophmore album. I still haven't decided if it's better than "Food and Liquor" but I'm sure if I give it a few more listens my mind will change. I'm planning on buying the album today.
"Lupe talks about a desease with no cure but I'm not sure exactly what he's talking about."
The disease he's talking about is AIDS.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2007 11:16:01 AM PST
Thank you C. Mathew. I hope you like it, give it a few listens first though cause It's rather complicated lyrically. Aboout the disease on "Streets of Fire", I thought It was AIDS too, but some of the lyrics made me think it had a double meaning but I guess Lupe wanted to make it more poetic. Thanks again!.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2007 10:15:22 PM PST
Amazon Customer says:
I think the double meaning about the disease on "Streets On Fire" is Lupe's female character "The Streets" and all she epitomizes.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2008 9:12:54 AM PST
I finally got my hands on this and it's absolutely an incredible album with not a single let down. Your prospective of this album was really thought out Joe. I agree, Lupe is by far the loudest positive voice in Hip Hop making this an instant classic. Lupe's sincerity and intelligence flow through every tune. Each song speaks and gives an aspect of the Streets, the game, and the cool for sure. To me all the tracks are great but the two that draw me in are "Hip Hop Saved My Life" and "Intruder Alert" ...... great story telling. There were a lot of good rap albums this year lets just hope it continues.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2008 5:09:13 AM PST
The 3 Hip Hop albums I liked most of last year were Common, Chammilionaire and this one by Lupe Fiasco (thanks for introducing me to him!). This album is so smart that it takes many listenens to figure out the puzzle of related lyrics, just like K. Bonsra said "Streets of Fire" had a double meaning like a load of other songs here. It's also good that Lupe combines catchy beats with socio conscious lyrics, even if he may not be as commercial as Kanye West there isn't any doubt who's the better of the two. My favorite songs were "Superstar" that is currently getting alot of airplay and "Intruder Alert", Lupe's storytelling of the latter is incredible considering the things he's dealing with. I do hope that his third album won't be the last cause this man is too good to quit. Can Snoop Dogg not retire instead? He really lost his creative peak long time ago... Thanks for the nice words Jenny! :-)
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2008 11:04:26 AM PST
K. Bonsra is right, Lupe is talking about his female character "the streets." and i'm pretty sure that's the only meaning, not one of two. it could seem like AIDS because that's part of the lives of people on the streets, but in no way is it what the song is about.
great review though, and if you havent already, check out the dvd that came with it. he introduces his new characters in a bit more detail and explains the 5 songs off the album dedicated to them
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2008 3:38:20 AM PST
Thanks for the nice words man, Yeah putting a DVD together with the CD is a great idea. Lupe Fiasco is one of a kind and proves how much thought there is behind his music. "Superstar" is even cimbing on the top 100 chart.
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