Lupe Fiasco - The Cool

Posted 8 years ago
Tags: Lupe Fiasco,

Lupe Fiasco’s recent announcement that his new album The Cool marks the beginning of his...

The Cool Album Review

Lupe Fiasco’s recent announcement that his new album The Cool marks the beginning of his retirement has been met with equal parts skepticism and shock. Turns out The Cool is the second album in a trilogy, starting with the breakout Food and Liquor and ending with the upcoming LupEnd. Once Lupe releases LupEnd he’s done with hip-hop, even if hip-hop’s not done with him.

Drop three albums and retire, apparently that’s been the Chicago MC’s plan from the beginning. Whether or not his departure actually happens, the mere threat gives The Cool an increased air of rarity and significance. Lupe’s alternately been embraced as the savior of hip-hop or dismissed as a self-involved intellectual, but regardless of where you fall on the Fiasco love/hate spectrum, you have to appreciate a man with the integrity to stick by a self-imposed retirment deadline. Think about it; if the world would only hear three things from you, what would you say?

Lupe’s always had a message, but what separates him from mere preachers is his ability to weave his philosophy into story. The Cool features a rotating cast of characters that personify elements of urban life, with Lupe adopting different flows and production styles for each. Streets On Fire soars against a softly driving beat and intimate vocals from longtime collaborator Matthew Santos, the perfect stage for Lupe to spin the story of the goddess The Streets, an urban siren who lures people to walk her blocks in search of money and fame. Some rappers wouldn’t know a metaphor if it drank their Patron, metaphorically speaking, but Lupe’s an absolute master: “No pill, can heal, the ill of this, sickness, some are still in doubt of its existence.” The Cool is full of lines likes these, you may want to get out some pen and paper. Put You On Game continues the theatrics with the introduction of The Game (not to be confused with the Game), a skeleton with dice for eyes that’s the embodiment of the lust for money and power. It’s eerie to hear the usually nerdy MC inject his vocals with a sense of menace and dread, particularly when he’s putting together rhymes like, “tell ‘em that you played my game, I hope your bullet holes become mouths that say my name.” Lupe’s calling card was always his lyricism, but tracks like these prove he’s more than a dope rapper – he’s an incredible artist. Period.

On the flip side Lupe’s insistence on conceptual density has caused many hip-hop heads to avert their ears. Lupe’s heard the criticism too, apparently he doesn’t give a f***. Dumb It Down hovers over a stripped down electronic beat while Lupe takes a few minutes to respond to the critics, from the record executives only interested in record sales to video directors trying to get him to “pour champagne on a b****.” The pencil-slim rapper ends the track with a defiant, “I flatly refused, I ain’t dumbed down nothing,” after all it’s hard to bribe a man who’s genuinely not interested in material wealth. If Dumb It Down is Lupe’s refusal of fame, than Superstar is the reason why. Superstar’s piano melody and melancholy chorus has a decidedly English rock sound, setting the scene for Lupe’s introspective rhymes about the price of fame: “I wanna believe my own hype, but it’s too untrue.” It’s the same struggle for sanity in the face of the cult of celebrity that Kanye’s been having for five years now, only Lupe hasn’t flipped out at any awards shows…yet.

With all this talk of philosophy and sociology it’s easy to overlook the heart of The Cool, a profound desire to simply experiment. Go Go Gadget Flow has Lupe spitting his quickest Twista-style rhymes with surprising efficiency, the Neptunes produced Paris, Tokyo is a sweetly romantic track with a decided mid-90’s influence, and Lupe enlists rocker Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame for a darkly explosive Hello Goodbye. All that variation makes The Cool the most expansive hip-hop album of the year, and Lupe’s ability to sound at home on each track is the true sign of his talent, but that also means the album takes some work to fully enjoy. There’s a legitimate discussion to be had about Lupe’s refusal to cater to the masses, and the corresponding charges of elitism, but don’t let that stop you from at least giving Lupe Fiasco your ear for an hour. He may not be around for much longer.

DJBooth Rating - 4.5 Spins

Comments
Written by
Posted 8 years ago
Get The PLUG app by DJBooth and get the best hip-hop writing and news delivered daily.

Sample Text - Sample Link
0:00
3:00
Shrink
Hide

More from Lupe Fiasco

Featured Video

Hip Hop News

Mac Miller’s “The Divine Feminine” Album Is About The Stages Of Love

Love is the concept that Mac Miller will be exploring on his forthcoming "The Divine Feminine" album. Read More
Posted one day ago by Yoh

Young Thug’s “Jeffery” Cover Isn’t Shocking, Stop It

Young Thug is wearing a dress, it's not a big deal guys. Read More
Posted one day ago by Yoh

Young Thug “No, My Name is JEFFERY” Cheat Code Album Review

The artist either formerly or still known as Young Thug presents his most compelling work of the year. Read More
Posted one day ago by Brendan V

Mick Jenkins Continues Metaphorical Mastery With Powerful “Drowning” Visuals

When it comes to artfully representing the ills of society, Mick Jenkins is doing it better than anyone else. Read More
Posted one day ago by Brent Bradley

Drake’s “Please Forgive Me” Short Film is Coming September 30

Drizzy will follow-up his now triple-Platinum certified "Views" album with a 40-scored short film. Read More
Posted one day ago by DJ Z

Vince Staples Says 50 Cent’s Early Music Influenced His Gang Activity

The demonization of rap has been a long-standing problem for the genre, but there's truth to its influence. Read More
Posted one day ago by Brent Bradley

TRENDING NOW



Flame

TOP 20 MUSIC CHARTS


Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.