Lupe Fiasco
Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Pt.1


4.5
superb

Review

by Nathan Flynn CONTRIBUTOR (69 Reviews)
October 2nd, 2012 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lupe Fiasco makes many statements on Food & Liquor 2. The loudest one is that he's back.

After Lasers it would have been easy to write Lupe Fiasco off. After impressive debut Food and Liquor, The Cool was a less exciting verge into the mainstream and Lasers was radio-fodder with more emphasis on the hooks and less on Lupe’s usually strong verses. The whispers of wasted potential and sellout started circulating among his less-than-diehard fans who used to praise him for his resemblance to Common. Food & Liquor 2 shakes the dust off and, surprisingly, lives up to its title as “The Great American Rap Album.”

The whole atmosphere of the album seems to capture the essence of America right now. Lupe sounds off on a variety of issues at rapid-fire pace, sometimes so fast that you’ll miss the myriad messages being tossed around. It’s a gritty album, full of politically-charged lyrics and depictions of street life in the bad parts of town. It’s also a very organic record: these are the things that Lupe knows. He can still write a mean hook- look no further than “Lamborghini Angels,” “Battle Scars” or “Unforgivable Youth” for great examples- but it’s really his storytelling ability that sets him apart from his peers. There are plenty of sermons to be found on Food & Liquor 2 that will “baptize your mind and let your brain take a bath.”

On previous albums, The Cool in particular, Lupe Fiasco’s storytelling style centered on an invented, nameless representation of himself; autobiographical in the same way that Slim Shady is to Eminem, but minus the horrorcore tropes. On Food and Liquor 2, Lupe comes out as just himself- and even brings his sister Ayesha along to enlighten the listener about the conflict within Egypt. He spends most of “Strange Fruition” rapping in first person, describing a walk through the city and his thoughts on what he sees. He’s still “rapping about the same stuff” with each word meticulously calculated and placed, which suits him a lot better than his style on tracks like “Free Chilly” or “The Show Goes On” from previous efforts. As promised, Lupe is preaching from his heart about everything from the modeling industry and geo-politics on “Around My Way” to the defamation of women and the power of the internet on “Bitch Bad.” By shedding his nameless alter-ego, he can be bolder than ever with his lyrics and messages. He never presses his agenda too hard or is too overt with his politics: he merely stands on his soapbox and sounds off about everything that comes to mind (after much planning, of course).

Another trademark feature of Lupe Fiasco’s music is his exceptional production. Lasers suffered from having too many beats that were obviously designed for radio appeal. There was nothing risky about them: it was wall-to-wall synthesizers. Food & Liquor 2 breaks down the wall with a variety of beats that range from the basic high-volume, synth-and-bass construction “ITAL (Roses)” to the R&B groove of “Heart Donor.” There is still a dearth of synthesizers but the production teams get more creative with them, such as the layering on “Lamborghini Angels.” Other alterations, such as the chopping-and-screwing of Lupe’s voice at the end of verses or his voice bouncing back and forth between speakers aren’t original but are executed crisply and manage to not sound distracting.

Amazingly enough, as good as the beats are, they never overshadow Lupe Fiasco himself: he is always the star of the show. This is accomplished by the production team in a few ways, such as turning the volume on the beat down during the verses or cutting the beat out on a particularly charged line, but it’s mostly because Lupe Fiasco is always on top of his game. He’s the voice of the streets with an upper-crust perspective- dropping lines like “I’m just trying to keep you off Maury”- which gives his rhymes both edge and credibility. Songs like “Form Follows Function” deal mostly in metaphor but don’t lose any of the punch that his more direct songs pack. His flow is as elastic as ever, competently fitting the different styles of producers ranging from Mr. Inkredible to three-time Grammy winner Infamous. It’s obvious he can talk all day without stopping, but still experiments with a stop-and-start style on “How Dare You?” and pulls off sing-song incredibly well on “Heart Donor.” There’s enough variety to keep the album fresh even after repeated listens.

Everything about Food & Liqor 2 is a huge upgrade over everything Lupe Fiasco has done in the six-year interim between this and the original Food & Liquor. Perhaps most impressive is that none of the 16 songs is a filler song. “Brave Heart” has the weakest verses by a long shot, but the chanted chorus and incredible beat from The Runners keeps it from being a skip-track. Conversely, the hook on “Put Em Up” is absolutely abysmal but the verses pick it up and it remains a listenable song. This may be the strongest part of the album: the fact that the pros outweigh the cons so heavily that one eventually ignores the negative parts. With this album, Lupe Fiasco truly has created “The Great American Rap Album,” at least until the next installment.



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user ratings (155)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
knottsknocks (3.5)
While the production can be bland at times, the lyricism and charged delivery are classic Lupe. The ...

Feliciano Segundo (4.5)
Lupe's solid thinking and witty lyrics mixed with great production makes us happy to welcome him bac...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2012


9049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album's for real guys.
Originally posted at muzikdizcovery.com

breakingthefragile
October 2nd 2012


2961 Comments


lol no.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2012


3470 Comments


Nice work Nathan, have a pos. Can't say much for my opinion of Lupe though

someguest
October 2nd 2012


20870 Comments


This guy is cool and all, but I feel he should be doing something else with his time.

Digging: Dexter Gordon - Our Man in Paris

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2012


9049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks Will!
@Alex I want a contrary review.

breakingthefragile
October 2nd 2012


2961 Comments


Yeah, I was planning on reviewing this earlier, It's like a 3.5 for me. I should have the review up later tonight or tomorrow.

Romulus
October 2nd 2012


8441 Comments


promise this is good?

Romulus
October 2nd 2012


8441 Comments


just seems unlikely he'd bounce back from lasers just like that and i didn't even hate lasers

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2012


9049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I thought the same thing and he did. However, I've found that we usually disagree.

elephantREVOLUTION
October 2nd 2012


2762 Comments


still haven't heard this. i'm not a huge lupe fan but the first food and liquor was pretty damn good

PistolPete
October 2nd 2012


3627 Comments


I trust his opinion, he's fromdahood

har har har

this looks good though, didn't really despise lasers, but yeah it wasn't overall great

Digging: O'Brother - Garden Window

JazzHands333
October 2nd 2012


312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Pos'd. My only disagreement is that I hated "Battle Scars" and "Heart Donor", and was kind of iffy on "How Dare You" and "Brave Heart". Everything else on this album is rock solid.

mindleviticus
October 2nd 2012


8292 Comments


Well Lasers was ridiculously awful, so I'm not expecting much

Cadda
October 25th 2012


162 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hmm, definitely gonna have to listen to this a few times

Oreoman85
November 11th 2012


28 Comments


werd

kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 25th 2013


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this guy is a straight up fool

kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 25th 2013


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

that said i still need to listen to this eventually

Wolfhorde
January 26th 2013


13645 Comments


"this guy is a straight up fool"
Care to elaborate?

MUNGOLOID
February 22nd 2013


4333 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

throughout most of this album, it felt like Lupe wrote it off and said "hey, at least it's better than Lasers." hopefully he gets his shit together on his next
one.

Wolfhorde
February 22nd 2013


13645 Comments


lyrical content is hilarious



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