Did you know there was a time that Lupe Fiasco was literally my favorite rapper in the game? Two of my favorite hip hop albums of all time are “The Cool” and “Food & Liquor,” both experimental efforts that I thought pushed rap to new boundaries. In my opinion, the Chicago rapper hasn’t quite returned to that form, and with each release, I get excited that he will be able to. Drogas is Lupe’s latest chance to impress me once again.
5. .WAV FILES
“.WAV Files” almost feels therapeutic: It boasts this gentle instrumental (One Lupe produced himself), a pretty laid-back style of rapping from Lupe, and content-wise, features some deep lyrics that are kinda tough to follow. I recommend playing the track in a room that is devoid of distractions, and while you’re at it, keep Encyclopedia on deck.
I was more amazed at the approach of this song than the actual musicality.
Lupe Fiasco gives us nothing but wisdom in “Manilla.”
“Manilla” has this smooth tone, but the food for thought that our hero gives us on it is pretty intense. Using this relentless flow, Lupe touches on topics such as racial segregation, having a pure state of mind and veering away from falling in love with the materialistic things of the world. Though many of the messages he dishes out in his rhymes aren’t the clearest, his bravado and clever wordings make for quite the intervention for the soul.
Have Google on deck when you listen to this joint.
This song features “Food & Liquor” Lupe. (Need I say anymore?)
Any chance Lupe gets, he tries to tell haunting stories to the youth of today to possibly change their ways. In this particular episode, he talks about a girl that is going through quite the battle between good and evil, and how the sights she saw around her played a big part on which way she ended up going. Lupe’s words are powerful, they are exact, and most importantly, tug at your soul tremendously. When you add the soulful instrumental and touching crooning by Troi Irons to the equation, you have a piece of work that might seduce you into tears.
The rap flow Lupe uses on this song sounds very similar to the one he used on “The Instrumental.”
“Stronger” is something serious! It has this old school rap vibe to it production-wise, focused bars by Lupe, and this dramatic contribution from Nikki Jean on the hook. Matter of fact, I felt like I was listening to a scene from The Hamilton while playing it.
The version of Lupe you get on this song is the one I love. Throughout, he hammers through his bars like the musical version of Mario on the old school version of Donkey Kong. His wordplay is effortlessly laid out, the lessons he dishes out feels like it is given to you personally, and his tone throughout remains even-kill. I also love how sprinkles in some storytelling here and there on his verses, but it’s definitely optional if you choose to pay attention to it.
1. ALAN FOREVER
Lupe Fiasco fans say “AMEN!”
“Alan Forever” is a colorful track that blends the shine of a sunny day with the divine nature of a church service. On it, Lupe Fiasco gets a chance to tell a tale about a kid named Alan that believed he can do whatever he wanted to if he followed the right leaders, was gassed up by the right people and stayed on the right path when it came to his beliefs. Everything about the song screams out ‘Be a mentor’ to the youth of the world, and both Lupe Fiasco and featured guest Crystal Torres play the perfect motivational speakers.
I just love the feel-good nature of this track.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. IN THE EVENT OF TYPHOON (N/A)
2. DROGAS (4/5)
3. MANILLA (4.5/5)
4. GOLD VS. THE RIGHT THING TO DO (3.5/5)
5. SLAVE SHIP – INTERLUDE (N/A)
6. .WAV FILES (4.5/5)
7. DOWN (3.5/5)
8. HAILE SELASSIE (4.5/5)
9. ALAN FOREVER (5/5)
10. HELTER SKELTER INTERLUDE (N/A)
11. STRONGER (4.5/5)
12. SUN GOD SAM & THE CALIFORNIA DRUG DEALS (4.5/5)
13. XO (4.5/5)
14. DON’T MESS UP THE CHILDREN (N/A)
15. JONYLAH FOREVER (4/5)
16. KINGDOM (4/5)
17. BABY KWESI (INTERLUDE) (N/A)
18. IMAGINE (4/5)
19. STACK THAT CHEESE (4/5)
20. CRIPPLE (3.5/5)
21. KING NAS (4/5)
22. QUESTIONS FROM CHAIRMAN FRED (4/5)
23. HAPPY TIMBUCK2 DAY (4/5)
24. MURAL JR. (3.5/5)
If your mind wasn’t blown while listening to this project, you weren’t listening hard enough. Just when you figured out an angle Lupe wanted to take, he switches things up and gives you another one. It’s almost like he wasn’t content on sounding normal in any kind of way, instead, he challenged himself to sounds that you would think was a bit outlandish for him. With that being said, his raps on this project were awesome, but it was his artistry that caught my attention the most.
Lupe continues to dish out lessons to the youth that are honest, straight-forward and probably a bit harsh. But the way they are laid out is so musically pleasing that you can’t help but sit back and enjoy it. Seriously, how can you hate on the wordplay, flows and R&B features he utilized to deliver his messages? In addition to that, he incorporates history lessons, storytelling and a good mix of old school and new school sounds in the equation, too. Yes, we are blessed to have this guy.
My biggest complaint about this album is that it can be very overwhelming to listen to at times. A lot of the songs are long, and occasionally, it’ll feel like Lupe is rambling on them. I am all for hearing the Chicago legend rap and all, but for 1 hour and 39 seconds, my brain isn’t trying to process lyrical content that will take some time deciphering and digesting. But then again, I’ma dumb ass, so that issue might just be a me thing. (Dumb it down for us just a tad bit, Lupe! I know you are against it, but do it for the dumb asses of the world like myself!)
This album will be ignored, and that is OK, because it wasn’t made for mainstream consumption. But I think it is high quality. It won’t get the clubs jumpin’ or the radio’s peculating, but it will have you feeling like caring a bit more about black present, past and future. Lupe clearly succeeded in the message he wanted to deliver.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.