Lupe Fiasco, The Cool (Atlantic, 2007)
A couple of years ago, Lupe Fiasco was all poised to be the next Nas or whatever. But then his first album was just plain gay. And the guy keeps acting like such a douche. The pressure is definitely on for him to show and prove on this second album, a fairly ambitious concept album about coolness or some such.
BABA SAYS COOL FOR THOUGHT
The most obnoxious poetry I've heard since those early Roots albums. Maybe even more so.
Is this a call to free Lupe's drug dealer manager, who Lupe may or may not have snitched on?
GO GO GADGET FLOW
The album's first proper song. It sounds like one of these latter day Eminem productions. Lupe kicks a double time flow. I should expand on this at length one of these days, but I find double time rappin' and various other fancy styles of rappin' inherently less interesting than regular old rappin'.
Maybe you've heard this one. Lupe starts off rapping like Lil' Wayne, and then he launches off into his usual nonsensical bullshit. The strings and the choir are a bit much, but otherwise this is your standard fare indie rap budget Pete Rock.
This one has grown on me a bit even since I reviewed it a few weeks ago. I only wish they'd gotten the actual Robbie Williams to sing the chorus.
Holy shit! If every Lupe Fiasco song was this good, I'd still think he was a douche and a possible terrorist, but he'd be one of my favorite rappers.
Snoop Dogg seems kinda out of place on this album, but he's still Snoop Dogg. And I guess Lupe still feels like he's got some sort of point to prove. I'm surprised he didn't actually go and get Spice 1. And I guess he can't now. Darn.
Positively avant garde, on some Stones Throw shit. There's all these noises (like women's voices) going off in the background. The flow Lupe kicks on this is especially wicked.
HIP-HOP SAVED MY LIFE
A tale of an aspiring rapper not unlike Hustle and Flow. And I only know because these lyrics are about as decipherable as it gets on this album. You wish they were all like this.
Supposedly one of the ones produced by the singer from Fall Out Boy. It doesn't really work. The beat might be a bit too live-sounding for its own good, and the chorus is positively grating.
STREETS ON FIRE
I wish it didn't take so long for the rappin' to kick in. And I wish this sample was fuller and less muddled sounding. Otherwise, this might be cool.
This one's got kind of a rock edge, but not really. Kinda like some of the songs on that Wyclef album. And you know what I could use at this point in the album? A song with no singing on the chorus.
The one told from the perspective of a cheeseburger. But the rap isn't as interesting as you'd think, and the track is as annoying as shit.
DUMB IT DOWN
The infamous "street single" from a few months ago. It's especially obnoxious, since Lupe isn't really saying anything. He's going over people's heads the same way a homeless person at the back of a bus might.
Maybe the most "creative" song on the album. A real clusterfuck.
Lupe and one of his bag handlers imitate Twista over one of the album's worst beats.
PUT YOU ON GAME
Yep, the chorus is a play on that song from the first Game album. The beat is boring garbage, and I'm at a loss for what he's talking about. As usual.
Matthew Santos at his most John Mayer-esque. It's hard not to cringe when he sings, "Is it mon-ayyyy?"
So Gnarls Barkely, I'm surprised they didn't actually bring in Cee-Lo - except for the fact that he hardly brings in anyone you've ever heard of on this album, except for that track with Snoop Dogg. That first album had Jay-Z and Pharrell and all sorts of people. What gives?
COMMENTS: Honestly, I've gotta hand it to Lupe. There's a few tracks on this that I really do like - that I'm gonna bump despite the fact that I've obviously had my share of issues with the guy over the years. But only a few. A lot of this, especially on the second half, suffers from subpar production and obnoxious chorus singing from his 1st and 15th stable of no-talents.
BEST TRACKS: "Superstar" "Paris, Tokyo" "Gold Watch"
BONUS VIDEO: "Superstar"