I’d never really paid much attention to Lupe Fiasco, familiar with the name and the mainstream singles like ‘Superstar’ and ‘Kick Push’. This 5th studio album is a stand out set-list, debuting at no.14 on the Billboard 200, it is easily identified as his most successful record yet. Having worked with names like Chris Brown, Rick Ross and Ed Sheeran in anticipation for the release of this album, Lupe did not feature these works on the album, insisting his vision of this album was clear.
We start with ‘Summer’ and as we move through we visit ‘Fall’, ‘Winter’ and ‘Spring’ instrumental interludes, acting as a refreshing transitions into the upcoming parts of the record, creating a complete circle of a true modern art piece, cover-n-all.
‘Mural’, a crucial track, nearly hitting over 9 minutes is a mind-blowing performance. A chorus-less track with its hard hip-hop beat hears Lupe rap about pretty much everything in self-reflection. The range of song type is vast, banjo and oriental sound inspired track, ‘Dots & Lines’ is at the complete other end of the spectrum of rap music, minimalistic and experimental. Fitting in completely with what could be called the neo-postmodernism within the urban world, where hip-hop artists are showing a wider appreciation of different styles and art forms. This is also established through the cover art, a piece painted by Fiasco himself.
Lupe provides a critique of the American justice system, approaching from different perspectives in the track ‘Prisoner 1 & 2’. Concise doesn’t seem to be a word within Lupe Fiasco’s vocabulary, some songs stretch over the 8 minute mark on this album, but also in regards to features, ‘Chopper’ has a total of 6 underground hip-hop artists on the track. Track 13, named ‘Madonna’ isn’t a tribute to the queen of pop but a juxtaposition of Virgin Mary and the upbringing of children from ghetto neighbourhoods; Lupe visits tales a range of stories of meaning, like this, through words, like a true poet. Although I am not a fan of overly long albums, the length shouldn’t put you off as time is cleverly split up, approaching the genre in a variety of ways providing an escape for many moods. I believe it is a body of work that needs to be sat and properly listened to and not used as background noise, appreciating Lupe’s lyrical ability and his way of approaching a record as a concept rather than a collection of money making, chart topping hits, which is something I believe should happen more.
Not previously being a fan, this album has definitely changed my opinion and awareness of Lupe Fiasco, the artist.
Quote of the album: “And your reflection is your connection to more collections of more directions and paths. If your reflection is a mask, then you’re reflective of mass.” From ‘Dots & Lines’
By Ayshe Zaifoglu