Customer Reviews: Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 [Explicit]
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on October 31, 2012
First, let me preface this review with my experience as a Lupe listener. I got put onto Lupe in 06 or so with some of his mixtape work. Articulate and clever. A wordsmith if there ever was one. His first release, "Food & Liquor", was more of an extension of his mixtape work. It contained several songs from those works that had already been released with a few new tracks worked in. It was great. What made Food & Liquor great was Lupe's incredible rhyme skills, his fresh perspective - a "from the streets" but not "in the streets" take on the hood - and the production. The production on his first LP was outstanding. The gritty samples, soulfully melodic instrumentals that served as the perfect balance to his less-than-gritty content.

With the abandonment of that production with his next album "The Cool", the quality suffered a bit. The beats were decent at best. But the content was not missing a thing. Lupe was still sharp and very inventive. Although, the mood of the album without that gritty, samply, hip-hop production was different.

This is why "Lasers" was so disappointing. Rumors flew about the reasons for the let down. Somewhere between the label interference and his own hangups with the project, Lasers was the most un-Lupe album ever. The production was so pop and cheesy. The rhymes were no longer razor sharp and thought provoking. It was a crossover, commercial, underachievement that none of his original followers appreciated.

Now, for those of you who became Lupe fans more recently, I can see how Food & Liquor II seems like a good album. It's basically Lasers with slightly a little more grit. But for those of us who remember the street savvy Lupe with mind-blowing rhymes and incredible production, this album is not up to par. Lupe has changed as an artist, as most artist do, and it reflects in his music.

And yes, that's a good thing. But the problem is that the new Lupe seems so embittered by the unhealthy culture within the rap game that he's become more concerned with it than making good music. He's threatened to quit a few times, only to be motivated again because he knows he's better than most rappers by far. And he is. But he's making music angrily. He's no longer just painting the picture of the hood with articulate strokes over breathtaking production. He's madly flailing the paintbrush at the canvas because he's fed up with too few people having appreciated the art he was producing. I understand that frustration. But what he's producing now isn't his best. His frustration with the game is causing him to underachieve and it's sad to see as a fan and an early adopter.

With that being said, this album is just ok. The production is ok. Not bad, not great, just ok. Like I said, if you liked Lasers, you'll probably like this one. There's no more soul left in Lupe's arsenal, and that's the most disappointing thing. Most tracks/hooks honestly sound like they could fit on a Linkin Park CD. That'd be great if this was a Linkin Park album. But it's not. I don't want this loner/new age hip-hop sound. I want the soul that got my attention in the first place.

Standout tracks? Strange Fruition, Ital, Cold War, Hood Now. Skippable tracks? Heart Donor (beat and hook are terrible), Audobon Ballroom (crossover/pop beat and hook), Unforgivable Youth (crossover/pop beat and hook).
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on October 1, 2012
It is a good album, enjoyed it, worth the purchase. Not close to the level of Food & Liquor, but it is definitely better than Lasers. It's comparable to The Cool, although The Cool is way more consistent, more high points and less low points.

16 tracks long (not counting the 12 second 17th), the album is on the longer side although it isn't that hard of a listen. In my opinion the second half of the album is a lot better, more of that '05-'08 Lupe that everyone grew to love. The production is average, standouts being Strange Fruition, Audubon Ballroom, Lamborghini Angels, Brave Heart, Unforgivable Youth, Hood Now. Those songs have above average production with complementary lyricism. Some tracks on the album will have you bored with Lupe's overly clever wordplay. Listen to it for yourself, my bet is you'll enjoy it, at least for a listen or two. It's his 3rd best album out of 4.
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on October 1, 2012
As a long-time, avid Lupe Fiasco fan from the "Kick Push" days who has listened to all his albums, and as an African-American who has been touched by Lupe's music, I really wanted to love Food & Liquor 2 (F&L2). It was easily my most anticipated album of the year.

Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to "Food & Liquor I" (F&L). It doesn't even live up to "The Cool". I would say both of these previous albums were classics of the last decade. The way he always painted sometimes heartwarming, sometimes dark and tragic stories of pain and struggle in modern urban life and the ghetto always gripped and moved me, which made Lupe one of my favorite rappers of all time.

On F&L2, I saw that Lupe has become less of a storyteller, and more of a lecturer...which is most likely a reflection of his evolving, if not eyebrow-raising extremism in the Obama age. While Lupe was always a bit of an activist and spokesperson for the ghetto and urban youth, he has seemingly become more radical in the Obama age (his extreme Obama critiques, refusing to vote, etc.), and has developed a messiah complex that is weighing down the overall enjoyment and quality of his music. I say this, because it's written all over F&L2, and is the main thing weighing the album down from the landmark, industry-shaking album it could have been.

As I said before, the expert, moving storytelling of F&L1 and "The Cool" is barely present on F&L2 at all. Lupe, instead, lectures--a lot. The worst offender is "Form Follows Function"; the song title even sounds like a lecture title, and the song unfolds as such. The lackluster production doesn't help the replayability of the song--but that's perhaps not surprising, since his themes relegated the entire song as just a backdrop for his message. This same phenomenon happens with many songs on the album, making them hard to want to listen to again, lyrically or musically.

"Around My Way" was a single I initially enjoyed, but after being underwhelmed by the rest of the album, I can, in retrospect, even see some of these overarching album issues with this single. Whereas Lupe instead vividly painted pictures and told stories of local and global suffering in songs like "Hurt Me Soul", "Hip-Hop Has Saved My Life", and "Intruder", and left the visceral imagery and lyricism to impact the listener on their own, he flat out bashes you as a listener with depressing world events like a reporter, such as flatly saying "...the horn of Africa is now starving to death", and "Katrina, FEMA trailers, human body sandbags". He throws a slapdash, messy mosaic of dark world events at you, seemingly in hopes that one or some, if not all of the above, hit and stick to you somehow, like throwing balls at a wall and seeing what sticks. As I've cited and said before, Lupe is more creative than this. I know he can do better than this--because he's done it before, but doesn't do it on this album. By attempting to slapdash so many events into one album, one song--even one line--he diminishes all of them, and loses the listener, in an overly ambitious effort that instead becomes sloppy and unfocused.

"ITAL (Roses)" is one of the more uplifting productions on the album, but even then, Lupe can't stray away from didacticness, down to the point of outright saying "It's called being fiscally responsible" (never thought I would hear the words "fiscally responsible" in a rap lyric--he literally says it). Again, his message weighs down the overall enjoyment and impact of the song. This song had the potential to be an inspirational hip-hop anthem, of the "Fight the Power" ilk; instead, Lupe's didactic messages make it more of a public service announcement. That, and this song reveals hypocrisies between Lupe's message and his actions, given that he drops the word "b!tch" and "n!gga" casually despite denouncing the use of these words on "Bitch Bad" and "Audubon Ballroom", and is promoting getting a Camry instead of the typical luxury cars the rap industry idolizes, despite the fact that Lupe is known to have several Ferraris.

The tracks where Lupe takes a break from his propagandizing are then crippled with uninspired production and maudlin lyrics. "Battle Scars" exemplifies this; clearly groomed for the radio, and as such, very dull. "Heart Donor" is just downright cheesy and sappy, even by "Lasers" standards.

Being a whooping 17-track album, I was a mixture of excited and worried--excited for so much new Lupe material, but worried that the high track number might indicate a lack of direction, and almost guarantee many duds. Unfortunately, my suspicions were right, mainly for the aforementioned reasons.

Okay, that was all the bad.

For the good: there are a few gems on the album, that keep me coming back for another listen. "Strange Fruition", "Put `Em Up" (despite the bad chorus), and "Hood Now" are outstanding. "Lamborghini Angels" and "B!tch Bad" deserve honorable mention, too.

Unfortunately, though, again, being a whopping 17-track album, these few gems are outnumbered by many mediocre to poor tracks that are either overly simplistic ("Heart Donor") or overreachingly preachy ("Form Follows Function", "ITAL (Roses)"). Lupe can't seem to find an enjoyable, healthy balance between his message and his music.

Again, I consider "F&L1" and "The Cool" to be classics of the last decade; they had no dismissable songs on them. Every song was great and mindblowing in its own way, and worth a replay. I cannot say the same for F&L2--which is the first time in Lupe's career I can say this.

"Hood Now" was perhaps the most even-keeled, inspiring, and frankly not outright didactic and depressing song on the whole album. It's the first track in the album which Lupe sounds like he's actually having fun. As the outro, however, it comes 16 tracks too late. This is the Lupe I missed, reminiscent of his early days, that I was hoping to see more of.

I love Lupe Fiasco and everything he stands for. I stand by all his messages and beliefs of black unity, of black intellectualism, of rejecting the transgressive, retrogressive stereotypes of mainstream hip-hop ("hip-POP", as I call it--drugs, sex, violence, etc.). I also sympathize with his empathy for the various plights that plague the world at large: poverty, starvation, imperialism, etc. I believe with F&L2, however, he is now on the opposite end of the extreme from the very forces he is battling--perhaps an overcorrection from the forcedly commercial makeover of his music in "Lasers"--and needs to come back to center, and back down to earth.

If you're already a Lupe fan like myself, you'll perhaps still enjoy and appreciate the album, just for the effort and attempt alone, and for his meaningful, conscious messages that you find so little of in mainstream hip-hop. If you're an honest Lupe fan however, you will acknowledge after listening to this album that it just doesn't hold up to F&L1 or The Cool. As painful as it is to say, I think even Lasers might have been a better album, as far as overall cohesiveness goes.

If you're not a Lupe fan at all, or have only been a Lupe fan since "Lasers", I would NOT recommend this album to you. Unless you're already a committed fan, the didactic tone of F&L2 will most likely turn you off, and give you a horrible first impression of him. I would listen to F&L1 first, then "The Cool", and then come to F&L2.

I hope F&L2 Pt. 2 will overcome the stated weaknesses of this album.
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on October 27, 2012
In an "error" where lyrical gifttedness is almost shunned, it is quite refreshing to know that a high profile artist like Lupe can still have an album produced and distributed while staying true to his original form. Artists inevitably evolve as their careers progress and oftentimes, from an artistic standpoint, stray away from what made them so endeared by the public. After listening to this album, I was very happy to know that he hasn't, for his sake and mine. Bold statement: "One of the most lyrically tight rap albums I've ever heard...real talk" Bravo!!
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on September 25, 2012
Among the many great political MC's like the legendary Chuck D or Immortal Techniue, Lupe Fiasco has taken upon himself to be the number one mainstream political rapper in the game. "Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor" is and still a classic to me, so a sequel to that album has risen a lot of high exectations for me as a Lupe fan. After the mediocre LASERS album he released last year, Lupe had to cover a lot of ground in order to regain back his essence. To me Lupe came correct with Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, but I will not say it is a direct sequel to his debut album. To me, Food & Liquor II is like a mix between the 1st Food & Liquor and The COOL. The vibe on this album is dark similar to The Cool which isnt a problem for me, however Lupe rarely lightens up on this particular album in lyrics nor sound, with the exception of 2 songs. This album is like one long lecture of Lupe trying to enlighten his listeners, and sometimes it can be a difficult to hear. While I have always enjoyed Lupes political songs, being political on an entire album is a different story. Sometimes it can be an endeavor to listen to the album while trying to decipher his messages, and some songs concepts can be a little misconstrued. For example "Lamborghini Angels" tackles religion, but it's hard to truly grasp the message Lupe is trying to ensue. A lot of his songs on this album are a mixed bag of conscious rap with sooo many topics packed in, that a song's main message can completely fly over peoples heads. That is pretty much the only problem I have with the album, besides that this album is definitely in my top 5 Hip Hop albums of 2012 thus far.

The production in the first half of the album (while sounds good) can be monotonous at times with the exception of "Around My Way" a remake of Pete Rock's classic T.R.O.Y., in which Lupe did wonderful on. Once you get to track 9 "Heart Donor" the sound comepletely shifts into a much more diverse and enjoyable listen with a more upbeat sound that is reminicent of his first album. Keep in my mind, Lupe's lyrics in the first half of the album are still outstanding and filled with great depth particularily "Audobon Ballroom" which tackles racism with a hilarious hook by Lupe in my opinion. The songs he previously released himself are all present and still hold up great. "B**** Bad", probably one of the most important Hip Hop songs released this year contains the most sarcastic and true to form Lupe. If fans remember, Lupe did a song on his first album "Hurt Me Soul" that ties in with his views on B* Bad, which is nice to know that Lupe has been consistant 7 years later. "Battle Scars" is a duet with Australian singer Guy Sebastian, I heard a couple monthes back and it still hasn't grown on me, don't get me wrong I like the message and lyrics, but the song just sounds corny and unoriginal. It disgustingly reminds me of songs like "Mirrors" by Lil Wayne and Bruno Mars, or "Airplanes" by B.o.B and Hayley Williams. The opening track "Strange Fruition" has Lupe collaborating with his longtime producer, Soundtrakk, which is nice to hear since he was absent on LASERS, and its good to hear that they haven't lost a step. This song has an unorthadox hook but it works, Lupe's Lyrics on this song are also one of my personal favorites on the entire album. Songs like "ITAL (Roses)" and "Brave Heart" feature some of the hardest beats on the album, with hard bass and snyths that will just bump in your car. "Heart Donor" and "How Dare You" feat. Bilal are the lightest songs on the album, and sounds a little random on the album, but the lyrics and funky beats balances the album out a little bit. The "Hood Now" outro is a great way to end the album, the moody production and Lupe re-representing the Hood is a great way for him to connect to his people. The best song on the album for me have to "Forms Follow Function" which is Lupe at his absolute best. The production is great with the saxophone creeping in the background and Lupe Fiasco in his purest MC form that correlates to life to the architectural principle form follows function in which the concept of the song derives from. I love the album and everything Lupe has done (Yes even LASERS) and after listening to this album, my anticipation for PART 2 is even greater. I can't wait!!!!

Personal Favorite Tracks
1) Form Follows Function
2) Unforgivable Youth
3) Strange Fruition
4) Brave Heart
5) Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)
6) ITAL (Roses)
7) B**** Bad
8) Audubon Ballroom
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on September 25, 2012
Let me just say I respect and admire Lupe more than any other artist, in any genre {and my tastes are wide and eclectic} BAR NONE. It's so rare in music today to find such lyrical substance. Or ANY lyrical substance honestly....I'm an intellectual guy and an artist myself and I get alot of inspiration from ppl like Lupe. Instead of the same old things he makes you go and google things....You sit there and you listen to his albums and you just know and feel, its evident you're listening to a piece of art, crafted by an artist, planned out, heart,soul, passion, intellect poured into it. I havent even started on the consistency Lupe has, there are VERY few artists whose cds Id go and buy no matter what....again, itsjust rare and refreshig to see an artist, especially a rap artist { a genre which is great for vibrant poetry and intellectual excersie when its actually done} who hasnt sold out and dumbed down to sell more {HEY thats a Lupe song!} is they werent just one in a plethora of taletless tools who come and go with the same thoughless, useless, shallow, empty, repetitive crap that all sounds the same....

As for this cd specifically, I still put The Cool as his best cd overall, start to finish. This one was good though. All his stuff is. There were only 2 or 3 songs I didnt care for. Unlike some ppl I liked Lasers alot as well minus a few horrible releting-to-label-pressure shallow tracks {read the inner cd lining message of LASERS, loved the concept}. My top tracks are "unforgivable Youth", "Cold War", "audubon Ballroom", "Strage Fruition" and "ITAL roses". BUt again most of the tracks are tight.....I HOPE mr. Fiasco does keep making music for a long is greatly needed.....
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on September 25, 2012
I knew Lupe wasn't gonna put out 2 bad albums in a row this CD is the bomb Lupe always kills it Lyrically but nobody ever talks about his beat selection, the beats on here are flawless he stepped up in production but here are some of my favorite tracks 1. Put Em Up 2. Lamborghini Angels 3. Ital Roses 4. Braveheart 5. Strange Fruition (classic way to start an album) so there you have it those are my top 5 tracks I actually could make another 5 but ill just keep it short BEST HIP HOP ALBUM OF 2012 go buy it you'll be pleased.
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on September 25, 2012
Like most Lupe fans... I didn't really care for Lasers, it was too short, and a lot of the tracks had the exact same sound, which wasn't anything like F&L and The Cool.

Food & Liquor 2 (pt.1) is a perfect album for any Lupe fan and makes me completely forget all about the Lasers ordeal. Every track (except Heart Donor) is an exceptional reminder of why this guy is one of the greatest to ever pick up a mic.

Lupe gets it going right off the bat with Strange Fruition and ITAL (Roses) with great beats and off-the-chart rhymes. Around My Way has a good feel to it. B*tch Bad and Lamborghini Angels are both great tracks to turn up and bump, but still have a deeper meaning to them. One of my favorites is Put Em Up, it reminds me a bit of Dumb it Down with a simpler beat that really gets you focused on the lyrics. We get back into that classic hip hop feel with How Dare You and then back to another banger with Battle Scars.

I'll stop there as I don't want to get into a track-by-track review. For a fan of Lupe since F&L, this is a great addition to his catalog and will probably end up being my favorite album of 2012.
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on November 24, 2015
Lupe rights his ship after a disappointing sophomore effort in "The Cool" and also the nearly forgettable 3rd Album "Lasers". Food & Liquor II is the sequel that we were all waiting for. All that is needed is for someone to just press play and each track rides out like first "Food & Liquor". Honestly, one of the best purchases I ever made.
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on October 22, 2012
Love every song on this album. My first favorite was Bitch Bad. When I saw the title I was hoping that Lupe hadn't succumbed to the moronic lyrics common of most hip-hop artists who want more exposure and try to go more mainstream. I was pleasantly surprised (not completely tho) with that track. As usual Lupe mixes dope rhymes and metaphors with positive messages. Wish more hip-hop artists would do the same.
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