“I know you’re sayin’, ‘Lupe rappin’ ‘bout the same shit/ Well that’s ‘cause ain’t shit changed, bitch,” says Mr. Fiasco on “ITAL [Roses]”, the third track off his fourth LP, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1. As the title tells us, it’s both an effort to hark back to his debut glory days and a testament to the self-indulgent nature of this 16-track record. As a consequence of the turbulence in Lupe’s world, part two might never ascend over the wreckage left in the wake of the shit that hasn’t changed: his displeasure with the skyrocketing Chicago homicides, overtly frightening correspondences with Keef Chief, and enough funerals to make Lupe announce, “This album will probably be my last …”
Some of these tracks give Lupe the room to triumph, like how the sax-driven sample on “Around My Way”, albeit controversial, compliments clever lines like, “Hither you can be Mr. Burns or Mr. Smithers/ The tyrant or the slave but no where in the middle. But he falters on the frivolous “Heart Donor”, and of course he provides a track-by-track look at what’s wrong with the world (read: America), including systematic apartheid (“You put us in the ghetto and then you took our dads” on “Strange Fruition”), gender inequalities (“Bitch Bad”), and materialism (“Lamborghini Angels”). The bone he seemingly tosses to the label comes in “Battle Scars”, a radio-ready love song whose hooks are so infectious.
Despite his disdain for the rap game, it’s fun to see Lupe embrace the influence his that his race and genre have on food, fashion, sports, and music with lines like, “We took that hurt, made into songs/ God bless the child that’s got his own/ It’s hood now.” Preach! But seriously: stop preaching.
Essential Tracks: “Around My Way”, “Hood Now”