The very highly anticipated new album by Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part 1, is out now!
No need for introductions here, we all know who he is. This is the “sequel” to the original Food & Liquor, his debut album, and is much darker. Now, time for the review.
1. Ayesha Says (Intro)
This album traditionally starts like the first two albums: A spoken word intro from Lupe’s sister, Iesha. Here, she prepares the listeners for what’s coming on the album, summarizing all the topics that will be discussed.
2. Strange Fruition (featuring Casey Benjamin)
The album starts off very strong with one of the best songs on the entire album (and maybe his career). This is the only track produced by Soundtrakk, which may be strange to most people, since he is typically Lupe’s main producer. Either way, Soundtrakk does his thing as usual, providing Lupe with a strong beat to go with the lyrics. Casey Benjamin sings the hook here, and although it is heavily distorted, it fits with the theme of the song. The song discusses the state of America. The first verse is about how he distrusts the government, how it is corrupt, his frustration with society, and the government continuously being against blacks since the beginning, and now also. The second verse is about him going mad over society, Illuminati references, “killing them with happiness,” and how today’s youth do not care what they do, “as long as they look good when they be doing bad.”
3. ITAL (Roses)
ITAL = Vital. Song for the kids. Telling them not to join gangs, don’t spend all your money, don’t listen to the messages of most rappers, etc. The hook is the problem, it’s corny when he actually does a kiss. Also, he provided us with this: “I know you’re sayin’, ‘Lupe rappin’ ‘bout the same shit.’ Well, that’s ‘cause ain’t shit changed, bitch.”
4. Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)
The first and highly controversial single of the album. It has a lot of political talk and is pretty fast paced. The beat is almost exactly like T.R.O.Y. by Pete Rock, who had a fit about this.
5. Audubon Ballroom
To explain the title, the Audobon Ballroom is the place where Malcolm X was assassinated. Mostly, this track talks about the racial problems throughout history and present time. Present time is mostly about how white people can’t say “nigga,” but black people can say it freely, even though they are actually demeaning themselves. When it comes to history, this song talks about the Reagan Era, Harlem Renaissance, etc.
6. Bitch Bad
The second single from the album, also controversial. The song criticizes the use of the word “bitch” in rap. The song uses a slow-ish, simplistic flow and the beat sounds like a Lupe spin on trap music. Here is my analysis of the video, if you want to go deeper into the meaning of the video.
7. Lamborghini Angels
Third single, once again, controversial. In my opinion, this is one of the best beats I’ve heard, and is possibly the best Lupe has rapped on. The verses are all split into separate stories. Verse 1 speaks of the relationship between white Christian settlers and brown/black pagan natives. The whole verse mentions that the natives should not be allowed in stores, turns virgins into whores, etc. But in the end, we find out that it’s talking about racism, wanting to “cure” his color. Verse 2 is about lobotomy and changes into women rights at the end. The one flaw of the song was in the third verse, where he randomly mixes two stories. The main story there is about molestation from Catholic priests, where it’s bad if their wives are raped, but it’s okay when they do it. In the middle of the verse though, a completely different story pops up about the army killing civilians, then taking pictures with them, then urinating on them. If you’re aware, this actually did happen some months ago.
8. Put Em Up
One of the best beats on the album. In this one, Lupe kind of brags, but he does it in his usual lyrical way. In the end, he says that only 2Pac is better than him. Also, he disses his previous album.
9. Heart Donor (featuring Pooh Bear)
Here’s when the albums weaknesses start. This is the worst song on the album, which is disappointing because Put Em Up was one of the best. It has what is probably the worse hook on a Lupe Fiasco song ever, provided by Pooh Bear (only Trey Songz can compete against how bad this hook was). It is highly generic, auto-tuned, and irritating. If anything, the hook itself isn’t bad, but the way “heart donor” is said is just terrible, the hook alone makes me want to skip it. In itself, the lyrics for the verses are uplifting and include Batman references, but it still isn’t very good. The beat itself isn’t too bad, except for some chopped up vocals in the hook. The beat sounds like something from the first Food and Liquor, but watered down. The beat and the hook (when not auto-tuned) strongly reminds me of the ending of Audition Mantra by P.O.S., which I loved.
10. How Dare You (featuring Bilal)
I remember when this was announced to be released as a single on 9/11, I thought that it was going to be Lupe going all out talking about that event. Boy was I wrong, and so was everyone else. This basically, to quote the editors of RapGenius, is Sunshine Part 2.
11. Battle Scars (with Guy Sebastian)
Well…when this first came out, I compared it to the first three singles, and I was baffled. This was completely different from the other songs and felt completely out of place. It still feels out of place. The song itself, again, isn’t bad. This is a song about love being war, thus “Battle Scars.” Basically, it’s about the emotional scars you get from your exes. Do you see why it doesn’t fit with the rest of the album? Again, it’s not bad, just too different from the rest of the album. Also, don’t play this song too loud, Guy Sebastian might break your windows with his voice.
12. Brave Heart (featuring Pooh Bear)
I don’t know what it is, but something feels a little off here. This about the comparisons of the rich and poor, along with how he feels guilty of living the rich lifestyle. Pooh Bear does a good job on the hook here, much better than Heart Donor.
13. Form Follows Function
Back to business! This is the Dumb It Down, Failure, or SLR of the album. Just completely lyrical, with a lot of religious references and some drug references. The beat sounds like SLR combined with Mean and Vicious. So you know, this is one of the best on the album.
14. Cold War (featuring Jane $$$)
This is a slower song, the beat is reminiscent of “Gold Watch” but with a slower tempo. It mostly about how his friend/brother died and how Lupe had to cope with it. The title is Cold War because he saw it as a cold world afterwards, he could not be happy after his death. This is a touching song, but the one problem is the chorus. Not that there’s really anything wrong with it, but the hook is way too loud compared to the rest of the song. It’s kind of screamed out, while the verses are slower and quieter.
15. Unforgivable Youth (featuring Jason Evigan)
The first two verses here are like a history class taught by Lupe. It recalls Spanish settlers coming here, murdering natives, taking their land, starting slave trade, and many other things that happened during the development of America. The final verse though, tells of a post apocalyptic world, where archaeologists come here to an annihilated America to find out about us. They search and make assumptions that American was an utopia, a perfect country. Obviously not true.
16. Hood Now (Outro)
The outro and goodbye for the album. Two verses, one is saying how blacks go places and make it “hood”, and the second is how blacks from the hood became celebrities, such as rappers, athletes, etc. A great closing for the album.
17. Go To Sleep (Digital Bonus Track)
I’ve said before that I don’t review bonus tracks, but this is an exception. This was released before Lasers and it was meant to be the lead single for this album. I can see why this was left off the main tracklist, but it should have been there anyway. Sure, the song is two years old, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s one of the best Lupe songs. The beat here is dark and haunting, and it fits perfectly. The lyrics are about Lupe telling the competition to “go to sleep” because they suck, basically.
Highlights: Strange Fruition, Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free), Bitch Bad, Lamborghini Angels, Put Em Up, How Dare You, Form Follows Function, Unforgivable Youth, Hood Now.
Extra: Go To Sleep
This album is great. It is not up to the level of the original Food and Liquor, but it can be compared to The Cool. It has minor flaws, but it’s all good. Buy it.