Release Date: Dec 18, 2007
Record label: Atlantic/Wea
Lupe Fiasco :: The CoolAtlantic RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' Juon"Come! These are the tales of the coolGuaranteed to go and make you fail from your schoolAnd seek unholy grails like a foolAnd hang with the players of the pool, fast talkin on the hustleNo heaven up above you, no hell underneath yeAnd no one will receive theeSo, shed no tear, when we're not hereAnd keep your faith, as we chase, the cool" Last time out on "Food & Liquor," Lupe Fiasco distinguished himself from an overcrowded field of up-and-coming MC's through his intricately constructed lyrics paired with musical backing not only far superior to most debuting rappers but to most of his peers with an album that year. The title may have been a little misleading to some since Fiasco doesn't rap about eating caviar or drinking champagne that much. Fiasco left that fiasco to much more boring contemporaries who obsess about their status amongst the nouveau riche, trying to prove the kid from the hood made good and now gets dap from Donald Trump and Diddy.
Last year, Lupe Fiasco set himself apart from the rap pack with a debut full of brainy, Kanye-style positivity, including a laid-back skateboarding anthem, ”Kick, Push.” You might wonder what happened to that guy if you’ve read how his follow-up, The Cool, is a concept album about gangsta life. But in truth, only four songs address that story line — thankfully leaving the bulk of this CD to instead indulge in Fiasco’s divergent themes and musical explorations. Want self-righteous anger? See ”Dumb It Down,” where he imitates fellow rappers and white execs urging him to get crass (”Pour champagne on the b—- !” he bellows satirically).
Review Summary: Surprisingly, The Cool works despite its many obvious flawsAll eyes are on Lupe Fiasco for his second album proper, The Cool, follow-up to his critically-adored debut Food & Liquor and, so he’d have us believe, the second-to-last album before he retires. Though hip hop boasts a grand tradition of artists pretending to retire so their albums will be viewed more favourably, Lupe’s own boasts seem particularly audacious. In spite the industry-wide sales decline, he’s still only a second-tier artist sales-wise, and “most blogged-about rapper of 2006” honours aside, three moderately successful releases does not a legend make.
At this point, no one really knows where hiphop is heading. Lupe Fiasco over in Chicago, where the innovations of the South, Midwest, New York and West Coast scenes meet, doesn’t seem to have a better handle than anyone else. Which is why it sounds like he tried to drop in a little bit of everything on The Cool, just to cover all the bases. On paper at least, that might sound like a winning strategy.
Tireless hall monitor aesthetics and suspect taste be damned, Lupe Fiasco's narrative gifts and labyrinth flow carry weight. Alas, the game isn't kind to virtuosos who don't slow down workout regimens long enough to revel in ironic minstrelsy. Tough to imagine this guy getting any more famous, but now he's manifested and presented hip-hop's doomsday device: a missile set to vaporize rogue states of underground promoters, producers, and rappers – the kind to dish out $1,500 for 15 minutes of stage time before Chamillionaire rocks a car show.