Feeding off the overwhelming critical reception of Food And Liquor, Lupe Fiasco announced plans for a seminal follow up release. The album would build on the themes covered in the song The Cool from his debut; an impassioned tale of a fictional emcee at his moral crossroads. He began work on the full length Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (1st & 15th/Atlantic), and Hip-Hop hipsters crossed their fingers; waiting on the edge of their seats for a Fiasco prophesy. Then came the scandal known as Fiasco-gate. The Chicago native attempted to pay homage to A Tribe Called Quest during the recent VH-1 Hip-Hop Honors and straight up flubbed Phifes verse from Electric Relaxation. Throwing salt on an open wound, Fiasco later explained the botch by saying that he never spun Midnight Marauders growing up. Nevertheless, Lupe delivers a solid sophomore effort showing his artistic merit should no longer be in question.
Things are kicked off the same as Food and Liquor with Iesha Jaco. Waxing poetic over the struggles and tribulations of our contemporary society; the intro is an aggressively spoken monologue intended to set the stage. Lupe steps into limelight with an impressive double time flow on the Soundtrakk produced Go Go Gadget Flow; a string heavy beat running ominously behind distorted guitars. The Coolest grooves a tight chorus backed over orchestral melody. Fiasco falls into Michael Young Historys psyche; with wordplay running rampant over our introduction to the conceived MCs spiritual manifestation; The Cool. He touches on last years inspirational track here, and introduces The Streets and The Game, who represent well, the streets and the game. We dont get a full conceptual piece like American Gangster though, as Lupe integrates these characters into only five tracks; strewn across the albums canvas.
Even more prevalent than Fiascos concept, is his analysis of his own rise to fame and stardom. Gold Watch is a funky checklist of his preferred clothing lines, gadgets, and other vices that complete his make up. Bouncing over a piano driven beat with clean guitars fed over streetwise drum riffs, he cites: “I love Street Fighter 2 / I just really hate Zangief / Only Ken and Ryu, I find it hard to beat Blanka.
Fiasco often relies on the proven formula that he established on Food And Liquor to carry himself through The Cool. Only the lackadaisical Snoop featured Hi-Definition truly misses, and a couple of middle of the road tracks dont connect as intended (Hello Goodbye, Go Baby). Little Weapon, Streets on Fire, and Intruder Alert do play to Fiascos knack for storytelling, with narratives of brethren traveling the wrong road.
Bottom line The Cool is undeniably a good listen. Lupe demonstrates an innate virtuosity in his brainy approach to an often over simplified craft. While the records arent all unified by a theme of the aforementioned protagonist as many expected, the idea of dope music always works best.Buy From: