"Food & Liquor" is the future

Sept. 26, 2006, midnight | By Nitin Sukumar | 17 years, 8 months ago

Lupe's debut album comes from a unique approach

Sex, cash, drugs and violence. Sound familiar? Almost every successful mainstream rap album is full of them. But Lupe Fiasco is different from the mainstream. The highly anticipated album was bootlegged from Lupe's studio three months ago, giving listeners a taste of the candy. "Food & Liquor" captures everything from skateboarding to family problems with a lyrical flow Jay-Z describes as "a breath of fresh air."

Lupe might give listeners the wrong impression by naming the album "Food & Liquor." In "Intro," he follows a woman's poetic speech on a corner in his native Chi-town, with a heartfelt dedication to his grandmother and a real take on the world explaining, "you got your good, y'know, and your bad/you got your food, and your liquor." Lupe, a devout Muslim, uses his religious beliefs to give meaning to his album.

The album immediately jumps into a snazzy guitar beat in "Real." Lupe explains bringing back rap, exposing the lies in rap and giving his people something real: "That's why my momma said she wanted something real/something she could be proud of, something she could feel."

The next track, "Just Might Be OK," is a forceful rhyme about Lupe's rise to fame ("I'm cool I don't foretell best/ I ain't nice as MC I'm Cornel West/ I am Cornel Westside") continues with producer Prolyfic's heavy drums and horns.

"Kick, Push" is the lead single off the album. This track shows Lupe's amazing ability to narrate a story through his rhymes. Lupe delves into skateboarding, an unusual and refreshing interest for a rapper. This narrative follows a boy who makes boarding his life, even meeting his girl at a park and skating with her ("And so they kick, push, kick, push, kick, push, kick, push, coast/and away they roll/ just loves intertwined with no place to go.") The jazzy beat fits perfectly with the smooth chorus.

Lupe has his own take on the media in "The Instrumental," featuring alternative rock artist Jonah Matranga. The mysterious tune sets up a situation of a man who is absorbed by the contents of a "box," imitating the actions of those he sees inside it. The man can't control himself, "so he chained his self to the box/ took a lock and then he locked it/ swallowed the combination and then forgot it," Lupe raps. The box, in this case, media in the form of television and radio, is hypnotic leaving the viewer or listener with an uncontrollable attachment to it.

The last major track in "Food & Liquor" is "Pressure," featuring Jay-Z. Though the Def Jam president has his moments, Lupe outshines him lyrically ("And so it seems that I'm sewin' jeans/ and 1st and 15 is just a sewin' machine/ so I cut the pattern and I sew in seams.")

"Sunshine" and "Daydreamin'" reflect Lupe's love for a girl, both with incredibly smooth beats.

If Lupe had dropped his "Outro" from the album, it would be near perfect. The 12-minute parade of "thank yous" to every person in Lupe's world brings up something the rest of the album didn't—the stop button.

While Lupe's album features big names like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Prolyfic and Soundtrackk, most of the credit goes to Lupe himself. The album is clean for a rap album; the only obscene language surfaces when he describes why he used to despise rap in "Hurt Me Soul." He maintains a smooth flow from "Intro" to "Outro," almost forcing the listener to continue listening from start to finish.

This unique MC's meaning could not be clearer in "Food & Liquor." The skateboarding, Chi-town rapper still has much more to say. Through his debut album, Lupe has made a name for himself and the start of a fresh music career.

Nitin Sukumar. Nitin's middle name is Antonio Gates. More »

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