I know you saying Lupe rapping bout the same shit. Well that’s cause ain’t shit changed bitch. ~Lupe Fiasco
The last time Lupe was hawking Food & Liquor it was 2006, George Bush was President of the United States and Twitter was months old. The album, rife with thoughtful social commentary and imaginative narratives established Lupe as the leader of the really new school and earned him his only Grammy.
Fast forward to 2012. Lupe has a fresh set of cultural concerns to bemoan from a seasoned vantage point and with a more critical eye. The friendly robot is replaced with a “Lamborghini Angel.” Gangster zombies are now pedophile priests and the love of “Kick Push” has withered into “Battle Scars.” It’s a darker day in Fiasco’s world, but that didn’t equate to a better album.
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1 is full of common sense and high level logic. The digital generation gets a sobering talking to in the Billie Holiday inspired “Strange Fruition” (a swindled generation with no patience, full of swag.) White folks with hood passes are told in no uncertain terms on “Audubon Ballroom” that they may not say nigger and black folks are asked to stop feeding into the stereotype. (Thank you Lupe) In “Bitch Bad,” an uncommonly aware narrative that addresses both the internal and external factors that contribute to children’s views of female roles in our culture, Lupe taps into the confusion that is acceptable disrespect.
It’s not all heavy and dark. “Heart Donor” is a sugary-sweet love letter to the fans with enough good intention to make you hug the dude next to you. “How Dare You” featuring Bilal and some Lawrence Welk-inspired synth is a nod to all the sexy, sassy ladies out there who can break a neck or two. It’s also the best song on the album. Chest-pounding self big up infiltrates the smoky, slow-footed synth fest, “Put Em Up” nicely.
Unfortunately, the album is also plagued with sleepy production and some even sleepier hooks. Food & Liquor 2 is both front loaded and too long, a self-inflicted wound that could have easily been remedied by being a bit pickier with the content on the tail end of the album. “Battle Scars” with Guy Sebastian ends the forward motion with “Form Follows Function” and a handful more bringing the LP to a drab conclusion. The production sounds dated and Lupe, less than energetic.
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1 is not a bad album. It’s not as good as the first, but Lupe Fiasco’s ability to take an elevated subject and heighten it with his lyricism is on full display here. There are some compelling themes worthy of your attention and I suggest you give it your ear. Even if you only listen to the first half.
3.25 Out of 5
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