Lupe Fiasco’s new album is one of the best of 2018
When you think of the greatest rappers of all time, who do you think of? Tupac? Eminem? Kanye? Kendrick? All of those names would most likely bounce around your head, and you wouldn’t be wrong for saying any of them.
How about Lupe Fiasco? I’m going to go out on a limb and say most of you wouldn’t even think of saying Lupe. That’s because, for most of his career, Lupe hasn’t been able to translate his extreme critical success to commercial success, or vice versa.
He either dropped an extremely well made conceptual album, like “Tetsuo & Youth”, that didn’t sell too well, or he dropped something like “Lasers” that while selling fairly well, it didn’t reach the heights set by his other works on an artistic level and was thus disregarded by critics.
The closest he ever got to mixing the two was arguably his best album, Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool”, which mixed listenable songs and production with heady lyrics and rich themes.
“The Cool” was the closest he ever got. Until last weekend that is. Last weekend, Lupe dropped arguably the best album of the year in a year that has been stacked with incredible, timeless albums, like “Kids See Ghosts” by Kid Cudi and Kanye West as well as “Veteran” by JPEGMAFIA. “DROGAS WAVE” is best described as a double album, complete with two sets of themes, lyrical content, and production quality.
The first album, which lasts from the opening track until Baba Kwesi, is a look in on Lupe’s opinions on racial problems, African heritage, and life and death itself. The tracks here include my personal favorite “WAV Files”, which when combined with the Slave Ship interlude preceding it creates an extremely emotional interpretation of an African legend involving a slave ship that sunk.
This ship’s cargo, the slaves, then made it their mission to free other slaves by sinking ships, with the hopes of returning to Africa as soon as they were able to walk on the water. It is haunting, touching, and inspiring all at the same time.
The second album, which lasts from Imagine to Mural Jr., is a more personal look into Lupe’s life right now, his breakup with Atlantic records, and what hip-hop means to him. My favorite track found on this half of the record is probably “King Nas”. Since the title of the track contains his name, most would think this track is dedicated to legendary New York MC Nas, but that isn’t the case.
The track is actually about Lupe’s nephews, whose names are King and Nas. It is his imaginative look into what they’re journey into manhood will be like. It is extremely personal, but from a listenability point of view, it is one of my favorites. The song is the perfect length, the chilled out East coast inspired beat, and Lupe’s flow all add together in a near perfect fashion.
If the album has any low point, it would probably be “XO”, but that is a more personal preference than a technical failing and that is why this album is so insane to me. Every song is so clean and well made, every lyric is well used, his flow is always on point. Lupe has constructed one of the best rap albums of all time here.
The only complaint I could see someone making is that it’s near 2-hour length is too long, but even then I would argue you could and should split it into the two parts I previously listed.
Is this album the best of the year? It might be. One thing has been made very clear to me and everyone else. Lupe Fiasco is one of the most talented rappers in the business, and he deserves a place amongst the greats like his hero Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.