Review Summary: After (and before) months of delaying Lasers, Lupe clears at least some of the fog surrounding his ambiguous future with the amazing "Enemy of The State".
I'm not sure who's been f***ing with us, Lupe Fiasco or Atlantic Records. Regardless, we've been f***ed, and Lupe feels bad about it. Rather than giving us Lasers, we've been stuck with Enemy of The State instead, with Lasers instead, but that isn't so bad. In fact, any real Lupe fan will tell you that his real skill is often buried deep in his Fahrenheit 51's, Lupe The Jedi's, and A Rhyming Ape's. While Enemy of The State doesn't top all of his previous mixtapes, it shows that his lyrical prowess hasn't gone anywhere.
After the annoying and fairly unnecessary opener, Lupe heads straight into ripping apart Radiohead’s ‘The National Anthem’. This track is easily my favorite off the mixtape, and the most memorable as well. Besides making all the Radiohead fans happy, Lupe’s verses vary wildly in terms of intensity, but keeping his lyrics steadily impressive with lines like:
“Feeling like a soldier, I ain’t talking where the Bears play/ Flair, look how I Fred Astaire down the staircase”.
The following tracks, ‘Turnt Up’ and ‘Yoga Flame’, aren’t nearly as good as The National Anthem but are still enjoyable, ‘Turnt Up’ more so than ‘Yoga Flame’. ‘Turnt Up’ ends interestingly and will probably lead you to rewind the song, which is worth mentioning as it stands out when looking back at the album. ‘Yoga Flame’, on the other hand, simply makes me not want to use zShare. Most of the tracks here are pretty much the same way; although barely standing up to Lupe’s past mixtapes, the songs do contain a few memorable moments strewn throughout. A strong exception, however, is ‘Angels’, which, while slow, features one of the best lines in Lupe’s history as well as emanating Lupe’s ability to manipulate your listening experience via a song’s mood.
Instead of giving more solid tracks like ‘Angels’, the rest of the album is basically verses over random tracks, some impressive (‘Thank You’, ‘Say Something’) and some underwhelming (‘Back By Popular Demand’). On ‘Say Something’, Lupe basically gives you the gist of the mixtape’s second half with the line “You might think this is deep as ***, but this is like my weakest stuff,” which unfortunately feels as though the tape is merely an “I’m sorry” to the fans for the constant delaying of both Lasers and L.U.P.End (although most fans dread the latter, anyway).
Regardless of the couple faults here, Lupe still delivers his “dictionary rap” without ever appearing pretentious. Few other rappers can go on about the state of hip-hop and their efforts to fix it without sounding arrogant, especially not as well as Lupe. Rather than delivering a set of tracks that flow well and occasionally surprise you like his albums, Lupe gives us a group of songs that stick in your mind more because of a few exceptional lines. True, that’s what most mixtapes are, but Lupe has done better ones, many of which are nearly album-quality. Besides this gripe, though, Enemy of The State is still a solid offering and worthy contribution to his already amazing catalogue of mixtapes.