Six years ago, Lupe Fiasco flew onto the scene with his debut album, “Food & Liquor,” which provided a much-needed new voice in hip-hop at that time. He founded himself on educating and inspiring with his music through incredible wordplay. Lupe released the sequel to that album Sept. 25 with “Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1.”
After the huge disappointment that was “Lasers,” Lupe was able to get back to the style of hip-hop that helped build an incredibly passionate fan base over the last six years.
When looking at a copy of “Food & Liquor II,” you’re instantly amazed with what you see (or don’t see). The cover, as well as every page of the booklet, is completely black, something that has never been done before in hip-hop. The album opens with spoken word, just as the original did, before transitioning into “Strange Fruition,” which features Casey Benjamin. The rustic vibe is instantly reminiscent of classic Lupe as he releases his first lines of the album, “Now I can’t pledge allegiance to your flag, ’cause I can’t find no reconciliation with your past. When there was nothing equal for my people in your math, you forced in the ghetto, and then you took our dads.”
The album continues with “ITAL (Roses),” which features a heavy, politically driven final verse before leading into “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free),” which samples Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s classic, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).” The next song, “Audubon Ballroom,” named after the venue in which Malcolm X was assassinated, is fueled with racial topics that have often been present throughout Lupe’s music.
He continues his topical rhymes on “B—- Bad,” one of the album’s lead singles. The song criticizes rappers for their use of the word “b—-” in their music and tells the story of how easily kids apply what they see and hear into their lives on a daily basis. These powerful songs are what have made Lupe a force in hip-hop since 2006.
“Food & Liquor II” continues its strong run with “Lamborghini Angels,” where Lupe showcases his quick rhyme schemes before moving into “Put ‘Em Up,” one of three songs on the album produced by 1500 or Nothin’. Following these two tracks, the album switches pace as Lupe begins a string of songs about love with “Heart Donor,” featuring Poo Bear. He continues with “How Dare You?” featuring Bilal, and the album’s latest single, “Battle Scars,” which features Australian pop singer Guy Sebastian.
“Brave Heart,” another track featuring Poo Bear, leads into one of the album’s standout tracks, one that Lupe has been talking about for a while, “Form Follows Function.” The smooth production with big horns throughout provides a clean background for Lupe to deliver his most clever rhymes on the album as he flows over the beat.
The album comes to an end with “Cold War” featuring Jane $$$, “Unforgivable Youth” featuring Jason Evigan, and “Hood Now (Outro).” Lupe saved the best for last as he describes the impact urban culture has had on the world over another gem produced by 1500 or Nothin’.
It was hard to expect “Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Story Pt. 1” to live up to the original album because sequels virtually never do. With that said, Lupe was able to put “Lasers” behind him and get back to the lyricism that had fans captivated every time he picked up a microphone. The album features many great tracks with powerful messages that you don’t hear from any other rappers in the industry. Now we look forward to hearing part two in the near future.