Lupe Fiasco – “DROGAS Wave” review

Lupe Fiasco is a 36 year old rapper from Chicago, Illinois who blew up in 2005 after appearing on Touch the Sky off of Kanye West’s sophomore album Late Registration. He then released 2 classic albums Food & Liquor and The Cool in 2006 & 2007 respectively. However, his output since then has been very inconsistent. His next album Lasers in 2011 is easily his worst yet, Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album in 2013 was just ok but then Tetsuo & Youth in 2015 was a near perfect return to form for him. Given that, I was excited to see what he was going to do in the future. Then last year, his previous album DROGAS Light was a disappointing mixed bag. But randomly last week, he announced that he was finally putting out his 7th full-length album.

After the “In the Event If Typhoon”, we go into the first song “DROGAS”. Here, Lupe songs in Spanish over a guitar & a horn. The track “Manila” gets conscious over a fitting trap beat while the song “Gold vs. the Right Things to Do” insightfully talks about slavery in a fake patois over some choir vocals. After the “Slave Ship” interlude, we go into the song “WAV Files”. Here, Lupe talks about Babylon over a trap beat with some beautiful piano chords.

The track “Down” sees Lupe singing about Atlantis over a spacey beat while the 2014 “Haile Selassie” talks about inequality over a wavy trap beat. The track “Alan Forever” is a tribute to Alan Kurdi over a churchy beat & after the “Helter Skelter” interlude, we go into the song “Stronger” reflects on his past over a moody beat. The track “Sun God Sam & the California Drug Deals” talks about this drug addicted girl over an orchestral string-inflicted trap beat while the song “XO” sounds like an microwaved Lasers leftover.

After the “Don’t Mess Up the Children” interlude, we go into the 2013 song “Jonylah Forever”. Here, Lupe ponders what Jonylah Watkins’ life would’ve been like if she wasn’t murdered over an uplifting beat. The track “Kingdom” with Damian Marley talks about freedom over some synths with militant drums & after the “Baba Kwesi” interlude, we go into the song “Imagine”. Here, Lupe talks about how he wouldn’t change his past over a spacey boom bap beat. The track “Stack That Cheese” is a perfect sequel to “Hip Hop Saved My Life” while the song “Cripple” gets romantic over a jazzy boom bap beat.

The track “King Nas” talks about being the man over some punchy drums & luscious piano chords while the song “Questions from Chairman Fred” gets spiritual over a somber boom bap beat. The penultimate track “Happy Timbuck2 Day” talks about him coming into the game over a mellow beat & then the 2015 “Mural Jr.” ends things with fireworks as it’s a flawless sequel to the 9 minute-epic that kicked off Tetsuo & Youth.

I was worried about this given the 98 minute runtime as well as how disappointing DROGAS Light was, but this does NOT overstay it’s welcome. Despite a couple old tracks & some boring interludes, the production is rich & it really does Lupe’s smart lyricism justice as his topics are really well thought-out.

Score: 4/5

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