Tuesday, October 02, 2012


 Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor 2:
The Great American Rap Album Part 1
Atlantic Records - Released September 2012

"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country."
—Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington, D.C.

I have been reluctantly preparing myself for the 2012 presidential debate on Wednesday, October 3, between Governor, Mitt Romney and President, Barack Obama.  Even though I understand not much will change (despite the 2008, and a newly revised, campaign slogan by the incumbent) I, nevertheless, decided to at least humor myself in this presidential poker-face process of 2-Card Monte. 
"When elephants and donkeys fight, it’s the grass that suffers"
So everyday it’s a little CNN, some Fox News, a knee-slap (to keep from crying) from John Stewart’s Daily Show and a steady page turn from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear & Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72.  Thompson’s take on political campaigns is so incredibly insightful and necessary, but a hopeless and empty suggestion for those satisfied with pulling a lever for the lesser of two evils.  My only proposition for those folks is maybe…, just maybe they bought Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part 1.

Lupe has been extremely critical of his Chi-town homie in the oval office and you don’t have to be Cornel West to understand what that will do to one’s popularity.   So if you are looking for an Obama Shuffle on Fiasco’s latest CD, you might as well be the wrapper on a Kim Kardashian condom because neither seal will ever be broken. 
The CD, at times seems somewhat oversimplified as a verbal window inside American politics starts with a 2 minute into......

“Ayesha Says” This poetic public service announcement sets the stage for the total antithesis of what your local Rap/R&B fm station is trying to sell you and your children.  The topics range from Trayvon Martin, to police brutality, to food and liquor stores (of course), sterilization clinics; and the new retirement age in Chicago all of which just scratches the surface of this soliloquy.  Did I mention this was track 1?    I’m not sure where you rest with Jay-Z’s conundrum “do you listen to music or do you just skim through it.”  If the latter is the case, track 2

"Ital Roses" will be as far as you get.  On this track, Lupe confronts his critics who bark: “Lupe, you just rappin' about the same shit.” to which he responds “that’s ‘cause nothing has changed, bitch..,” sort of like tomorrow’s election (as I digress).  Where Lupe and I disagree is his attempt to “dumb-down” the music for those NOT willing to really listen to some of the MOST NECESSARY lyrics since the golden era of Hip Hop.  And, the music on “Roses” certainly dumbs-down to propel the message. However, from the early record sales, the sort-after audience clearly isn’t listening, which totally defeats the musicial intent. 
“Around My Way” is the balance that I was PRAYING for throughout this LP. This will probably bang in the clubs and underground streets (mainly) because of the legendary sample of Pete Rock’s “T.R.O.Y”.  The sample created more friction than friendship between two of Hip Hop’s finest, which is unfortunate, especially since this is one of the few songs where a thesaurus isn’t necessary – but an open mind is and it should’ve started with the sample.

Hip Hop icon, Pete Rock
Immigration, the Catholic Church and Katrina residents are all front and center and Lupe is relentless in his conviction. Ironically, if a moderator for tomorrow’s debate wanted to kick off an honest discussion about America, they could simply cue the horns that start this track.
“Audubon Ballroom” I’m not even sure how to summarize this single and I really don’t like the music.  However, the historical context of Dr. King, Malcolm X, all the way to Erykah Badu is clearly drawing the line between Hip Hop and rap and rap is being slain, like King and X.   

“Lamborghini Angels” This song almost benefits from the Hip Pop music, because after the 10th spin you will wonder aloud, what’s happening? I imagine the minister of music at church won’t be rocking this one at rehearsal. The pastor in the song who allowed this theme to happen probably wouldn’t allow this (CD) to happen; and if you are dancing to this song in a club at some point you will have to ask yourself…. Is this really happening?

“Strange Fruition”
If you ever wondered why Lupe doesn’t vote, the opening line proudly addresses that query, which you would think would be enough.  Nah!!! Casey Benjamin’s hook isn’t even enough to referee the right and left jabs, of corruption and metaphorical mishaps terrorizing this track.  The music is insane and a clear indication of why the pop-laced tracks isn’t remotely necessary.   
“Form Follows Function” This is one of my favorite tracks, I suggest rolling the windows down, turning the bass up and letting the lyrics invade your soul.  If this track doesn’t do it for you “Hood Now” will be on before you circled the block. And, that really simple song is a light-hearted look at the invasion of Hip Hop into America’s railroaded culture.  “Hood Now” is probably the most harmless joint on the CD; unless of course a presidential debate is your barometer for truth.
And if that is the case it would be difficult to explain the difference between the hood Trayvon was wearing and the hood in the Judge’s chambers if Zimmer is freed; neither of which Mitt or Barack will mention in their debate.
And, that’s “Hood Now!”

1 love,
Ray Lewis

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