Lupe Fiasco
DROGAS Wave


4.7
superb

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
October 2nd, 2018 | 70 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: it's like typhoons, southern cities with large moons...

It's taken me almost two whole weeks after its release to even begin forming thoughts about DROGAS Wave. For one thing, it's so damn long that getting in initial listens took about nearly a week, and for another thing, it's so damn long that it took another for reactions and loves and hates to start forming. This is exactly how Lupe wanted it, I imagine. Releasing an album like this takes serious self-confidence, something Lupe Fiasco has clearly never lacked, even with regards to the absolute dregs of his discography. But like any great rapper, the man's most annoying traits occasionally pay off with his absolute best moments – the steel-minded clarity of vision it must have taken to assemble DROGAS Wave piece by piece, over five years in his home studio, with no budget or promise that people would even pay attention when it eventually released, is kind of amazing in itself.

Which brings me back to this point: DROGAS Wave is extremely fucking long, which makes its homemade nature even more impressive. This is a double album in the truly classical sense of the word, in that it actually comprises two distinct albums with a tenuous connection to one another released for whatever reason under one banner - Devin Townsend's Z2 style. Forget the lightweight shit Lupe released last year, because the run starting at "XO" is the real DROGAS Light: a summery shimmer of pop-rap which hits breathtaking highs with the delicate jazzy musings of "King Nas", or "Happy Timbuck2 Day"'s Tribe Called Quest-esque tribute to a legendary Chicago DJ. The other album, where the Wave section of the album name is derived, which loosely comprises the first half of the album and revolves around a mythical group of vengeful drowned slaves, isn't just Lupe Fiasco's best but easily one of the greatest albums I've heard in recent memory. A Spanish-language banger gives way to a Jamaican-accented Lupe telling the tale of the slave ships and then to a raw three-and-a-half minute violin solo, and yeah, that's before fifteen minutes have passed. In other words, Lupe Fiasco is back on his classic form - a mercurial lyrical genius who has no idea how to edit himself or play to his strengths, seemingly stumbling onto making a great album rather than consciously deciding to do so.

But DROGAS Wave justifies its strange double life by outdoing the old Lupe at his own game. The likes of "King Nas", "Stack That Cheese" and "Happy Timbuck2 Day" go toe to toe with the breezy nostalgia of Food & Liquor's best, while the early album concept songs make Tetsuo & Youth's weirdest meanderings feel pretty lightweight. "WAV Files" is the greatest song to ever emerge from the man's pen because it merges the two, with a chorus that could fill the empty space in any stadium dicing up verses where trees and waves anthropomorphise to apologise to the dead slaves for the assistance they gave the white slavers on their sea journeys. On the other hand, this insane balancing act cannot and does not excuse every misstep - "Down"'s garbage chorus is reminiscent of the most insufferably overblown ideas that bogged down The Cool and "XO"'s comes straight from the glitzy trash rap of Lazers or Light.

If all this sounds like overblown wank to you, you're in a pretty reasonable position, and again I'm sure that's exactly how Lupe wanted it. Every time the concept threatens to spin off the wheels in indulgence the rapper flits back to harsh reality and brings us along for the ride, like when "Alan Forever" resurrects a child who died face down on a beach trying to emigrate to Europe and traces the life he could have had, from a childishly magical first verse where the moon becomes a disco ball to an adult Alan saving his young self from death in the most moving and spare conceptual rap Lupe has ever spun. At its finest moments, the "WAV Files" and "Alan Forever"s of the album, DROGAS Wave achieves that sublime filmic quality hip-hop albums chase when they want to call to mind the word 'classic'. Like all of those albums, Wave frequently stumbles and falls short, but it does so on the path to something ambitious and, touch wood, timeless.



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user ratings (116)
Chart.
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2018


40671 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

100 reviews! someone get help

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butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2018


8770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fucking lovely review, Row! glad he's bounced back.. and congrats on the 100th!

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BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2018


2560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A worthy 100 -- beautiful review and congratulations and I love you.

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Gyromania
October 2nd 2018


25902 Comments


Only heard a few songs and they were good, one in particular seemed a little preachy to me tho. A lot of these racially, politically motivated rap albums make me roll my eyes sometimes, but I'll check out the rest regardless.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 2nd 2018


28120 Comments


Congrats and here's to 100 more RowBro.

Digging: mewithoutYou - [Untitled]

Gyromania
October 2nd 2018


25902 Comments


You're not a real rockstar until you hit 350 ;D lol for real tho congrats on 100, I'll give this a read later

Pheromone
October 2nd 2018


6323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Congrats bro, idk if I can stomach 90 mins of Lupe but I think imma have to try it soon

rufinthefury
October 2nd 2018


3080 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

grats on getting this out the door first and huge grats on 100 reviews. I'm still writing my own which is basically just an analysis of the themes rather than discussing the sonics at all.



I don't think it's a stretch at all to call this Lupe's best album. Coded works that require a lot of lyrical digging have always been my shit.





Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2018


40671 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

yeah this is his best album, apart from the chorus of Down there's absolutely nothing I dislike which is definitely not the case for either F&L or T&Y. keen for a thematic analysis that sounds dope

rufinthefury
October 2nd 2018


3080 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

we're v similar it seems. both dislike the chorus of Down and nothing else lol. And we both have Alan Forever as one of the best songs.



Cripple is my favorite though. To me that's a perfect beat for Lupe.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2018


40671 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

the verses of Cripple don't super grab me (I don't remember any of the lines off the top of my head) but it has one of the best choruses he's ever done - the way it slows down on "community resistance and progress" is superb

FreddieDelaney31
October 2nd 2018


4822 Comments


Well dammit fine I'll check this in full

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ProjectFreak
October 2nd 2018


3048 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

congrats on 100, and a fantastic review to get you there! Loved T&Y but I've been putting off listening to this because I know it's gonna demand all my energy to process it...which doesn't make for great "listening at work" music...

rufinthefury
October 2nd 2018


3080 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

DO MY DUTY TO BE USELESS TO THE FUCKSHIT

PistolPete
October 2nd 2018


4815 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, surprised at Lupe. He really is one of the more up-and-down rappers in the game. I still think Tetsuo & Youth and F&L are better but this is truly a return to form for him.

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bloc
October 2nd 2018


52376 Comments


Whoa I gotta hear this. Didn't know he had a new album coming out.

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iswimfast
October 2nd 2018


1461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretty much nailed it, overlong but it's highs vastly outnumber it's lows.

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deadcrown
October 2nd 2018


808 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd consider myself a fairly new fan of Lupe's. Got into him when he released T&Y and then went back and fell in love with F&L and The Cool. (I even like a few tracks off Lazers, F&L2 and Drogas Lite) With this release, I now consider him to be my favorite rapper and this his magnum opus. The only song I don't absolutely love off this is XO, but I still kinda like it. I actually like Down but that's just me. Also if you ever have a chance to him live I'd recommend it. Seeing him perform Mural in its entirety was one of the sickest things I've ever witnessed.

Faraudo
October 2nd 2018


2406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is a masterpiece of an album, and I will probably up the rating to a 5 in no time.

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GPooch21
October 2nd 2018


21 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I hated the chorus of Down, until I realized it was stuck in my head for 6 straight days for a good reason.



Edit: This came off negative. Sorry for that. The review was great, really. And I agree with 99% of it



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