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Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor

Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TWENTY-three-year-old Chicago native Lupe Fiasco is one of hip-hop’s emerging forces.

Born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, Lupe combines the chart-savvy mainstream appeal of Kanye West and Jay-Z with the hip, funky and almost cinematic sweep of DangerMouse and Jemini.

His debut album, Food & Liquor is a gloriously eclectic ride that refuses to conform to mainstream hip-hop practices.

The themes may be similar and born from Lupe’s background as a Muslim and the streets but there’s a smooth flow to the music, the rhymes and the melodies that harks back to more traditional hip-hop ethics, rather than the bling-obsessed contemporary scene.

He even states, at one stage, “I used to hate hip-hop” (Hurt, Me Soul) but having worked with some top-level executives within the genre for the past three years, he has clearly learned wisely and discovered a cracking formula for success.

For sure, flow like “the cops want to kill me” and “I just got sentenced and I got no place to go” (again from Hurt, Me Soul) could crop up on any hip-hop offering but the accompanying music is more akin to DM & Jemini (all strings and smooth beats) rather than the grime-laced work of 50 Cent or The Game.

Indeed, Food & Liquor draws from a rich bank of super-producers, including Nottz, Needles, the Buchanans, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park/Fort Minor and 1st & 15th producers Soundtrakk and Pro.

Highlights therefore include the most recent single Daydreamin’, a laidback nugget of pure hip-hop gold that features the sultry vocals of Jill Scott singing over a sample from Daydream In Blue that also appears in original I Monster form.

It’s an effortlessly contagious listen that puts the feelgood factor back into hip-hop much like Kanye West did with Diamonds From Sierra Leone.

Kick Push Parts I & II are also good records, each different from the other but evidence of Lupe’s complex, thought-provoking and playful lyricism.

Likewise, American Terrorist, an ultra-hip and frequently hard-hitting collaboration with Matthew Santos that’s rich in instrumentation and rife with lyrics such as “how do you forgive the murderer of your father?”. Santos’ vocals lend a cracking sparkle to the chorus that forces you to sit back and take notice.

It’s as take notice as DM & Jemini’s Bush Boys on the excellent Ghetto Pop Life LP.

Talking of Jemini, he crops up on the strings-laden Just Might Be OK, which almost careers into the Rocky theme before delivering an excellent vocal trade-off between the two equally smooth vocal styles. Jemini does, of course, lend the chorus an extra smooth slice of soul.

Sunshine, meanwhile, is as fresh and breezy as its title suggests, radiating quality and providing further compelling proof of Lupe’s own vocal flow (complete with sung chorus).

And The Instrumental, featuring Jonah Matranga, is an upbeat offering that conforms to the urgent Fort Minor/Linkin Park formula for success.

I Gotcha, on the other hand, inherits many of The Neptunes’ values and is a hip combination of heady beats and tinkling pianos that also features support vocals from Pharrell Williams.

Jay-Z even crops up on Pressure to complete a veritable who’s who of leading hip-hop guests.

Given the hype surrounding Lupe Fiasco right now, it would have been easy for him to mis-step in terms of his debut album – but Food & Liquor is an unqualified success and worthy of the advance praise surrounding it.

Track listing:

  1. Intro
  2. 2 Real – Lupe Fiasco & Sarah Green
  3. Just Might Be OK – Lupe Fiasco & Gemini
  4. Kick Push
  5. I Gotcha
  6. Instrumental – Lupe Fiasco & Jonah Matranga
  7. He Say She Say – Lupe Fiasco & Gemini/Sarah Green
  8. Sunshine
  9. Daydreamin’ – Lupe Fiasco & Jill Scott
  10. Cool
  11. Hurt Me Soul
  12. Pressure – Lupe Fiasco & Jay-Z
  13. American Terrorist – Lupe Fiasco & Matthew Santos
  14. Emperor’s Soundtrack
  15. Kick Push II
  16. Outro