Once considered one of the brightest young artists breaking in the industry, poised for a career of stardom, Lupe Fiasco quickly alienated fans with his antics, conspiracies, and series of disappointing releases. Now with a couple of acclaimed releases under his belt again, 3 projects on the go, and an apparent retirement imminent, will 2016 be the renaissance of Lupe Fiasco?
What Is Lupe Fiasco Hiding From Us?
Let’s talk about Lupe Fiasco.
If you are even a moderate follower of hip-hop culture, then you have probably heard Lupe’s name being thrown around a lot lately. Since his debut album Food and Liquor in 2006, he has been a fairly predominant name in the industry, especially in the inconsistencies of his work – The Cool being a conceptual masterpiece of its time, and Lasers being a downright commercialized disgrace in comparison – no artist has ever taken me on an emotional rollercoaster quite like Lupe has. And since the release of his latest album last year, Tetsuo and Youth, that roller coaster has turned into a harness-free wild ride. So let’s take a look at what we can expect from this rapper in 2016.
When Tetsuo and Youth released in 2015, it felt like we had the old Lupe back. The first song on the album, “Mural” is 8 minutes and 43 seconds of verse after verse, with hardly a pause. It was like he stopped trying to make music for all the pre-teens, and started doing it for himself again. The album as a whole was a great comeback after two not-so-revered albums (though, I would like to note that Food and Liquor 2 was seen as the beginning of the comeback after Lasers), and nearly every featured artist was someone I didn’t recognize – save for a feature by Ab-Soul and background vocals by Ty Dolla $ign. This in itself is an asset of the album, because sometimes a song can rely too heavily on the help of big name stars, and the focus is lost – which brings me to my favourite track on the album. “Chopper” features 6 underground rappers accompanying Lupe and feels like a Cruel Summer hit (minus the big time names, yet sounding just as good). You aren’t vibing on the song because John Legend sang the chorus and you totally loved him on that single that made you cry about your Junior High ex; Rather you’re vibing on the song because this unknown name just blew your face off with verses that could put down a horse. So, soon after the album’s release, people began buzzing about the anticipated The Cool 2 sequel that was set for 2017, because naturally,
they we all wanted more.
Now flash-forward to late 2015, and Lupe announces that he will be releasing three albums in the new year. Yes, three. Of course, the first concern with that much new music is how do you prevent it from all sounding the same? Looking back on the last ten years of his work, I can’t think of an album that sounded similar to the last – so if you are worried about music synthesis, just remember the difference between The Cool, to Lasers, to Food and Liquor 2, to Tetsuo and Youth. These three mystery albums (which are set to be titled DROGAS, Skulls, and Roy) could all well be completely different pieces with no set congruency. And I’m ok with that.
As of January, Lupe stated on Twitter that Roy will be his final album. But what about The Cool 2?? Just to keep you guessing, he later announced that The Cool 2 is still set for release in 2017, but with no other indication of what it might be. Everyone, I’m sure, is hoping for a follow up album to The Cool after all, but maybe Lupe is channeling his inner Kanye and creating a film, a la West’s 34-minute music video to Runaway (which is beautiful and you need to stop what you’re doing right now and watch it). Or maybe he will start an organization against gun violence in Chicago, which is a big topic throughout the The Cool, and calling it The Cool 2…End Gun Violence. See what I did there?
— Lupe Fiasco (@LupeFiasco) September 27, 2015
Now that Lupe is no longer doing interviews (for now…), we may never find out what The Cool 2 is until its release – aside from a few tweets that will tease us until we are all but ready to pull out our own teeth. All I know is, whatever he has in store for us will get people talking and bring some fresh talent to the table; and because of that, I can’t wait.
Follow guest writer Carly on Twitter at @CarlyWeiler and join the conversation!