Just about this same time 2 years ago, I was sitting down writing my very first album review on Tetsuo & Youth, Lupe Fiasco’s 2015 offering to which I cited as “a mix of slow tracks, fast songs, fun songs, story-telling, and [some] awwsome features (word to Shy Glizzy)”. The album was a 9+/10 to me and is still to this day one of my favourite projects that I have ever critically listened to and reviewed. ‘Content’ has been a word that always comes to mind with all of Lupe’s projects, and that one was no different.
Fast forward to last week, and Lupe Fiasco released a follow-up to the 2015 masterpiece-meets-conundrum that was Tetsuo & Youth, with one of his final releases ever (or so he claims) entitled with DROGAS Light. The latest is not necessarily a noteworthy release, especially on the ‘content’ front… or at least we didn’t think it was. Did Lupe just drop the best concept album ever, without us even noticing?
Did Lupe just drop the best concept album ever, without us even noticing?
Review: Lupe Fiasco Proves That 7/10 Is The New 10/10 on DROGAS Light
Lupe & your favourite rapper walk into a bar. Sike.
Lupe probably doesn’t fuck with your favourite rapper. Yet, chances are that Lupe can probably make your favourite rappers music… better than your favourite rapper can.
On DROGAS Light, his latest collection of theme songs for the (counter-)culture, Lupe does feel good on “Wild Child” as well as Jon Bellion. On “Jump”, he story-tells and west-coast-flows so good that you might think he hijacked a Kendrick track. He teaches Ross how to slang and KRIT how to lace a futuristic caddy-slapper on “Tranquillo”. Hell, he even does old Lupe as good as Old Lupe on the timeless motion-picture-esque tune “Pick Up The Phone”.
The kicker? Well besides the fact that he’s working well outside his own genre, or any single sub-genre/style at all, Lupe himself admits that on the project he was only outputting at about 70% – a 7/10. “
#DrogasLight is a “light” album in all respects. Musically, content, concepts, some of it is even freestyled. Easy breezy approach”, he stated in an earlier tweet, before completing the concept by reviewing his own compilation and grading himself a mere 7/10 on the album.
The only review of #DROGASLight that matters…
A Review Of His New Album DROGAS Light by Lupe Fiasco
Album available now! pic.twitter.com/eIPKqlVdHQ
— DROGASLight Out Now! (@LupeFiasco) February 10, 2017
So why would an artist outwardly admit that they weren’t creating to the fullest, and a better question, why would we praise them for it? Oh, that’s right. Because Lupe just subliminally reminded you that you just listened to ONE OF THE BEST ‘CONCEPT’ ALBUMS OF ALL TIME (/in recent memory, but you get the point). Swapping content for concept, he creates an entire rap album based on these so-called ‘light’ concepts stylized after your favourite rappers, justttt to prove that he’s a rap god – even at a watered-down strength. Extrapolating his review, he does champagne just as good as he does moonshine. He prepares his fans before the unleashing of DROGAS (deep) in a mere few months, but perhaps most importantly he calls out the genre as a whole for fostering mediocrity in the eco-system. Lupe returns in 2017 to judge us on the fact that 7/10 has become the new 10/10. Now, maybe these 7/10 songs or 7/10 rappers aren’t mediocre at all, and maybe its just our bliss taking the wheel (sorry Jesus) – but regardless did we really expect Lupe Fiasco of all people not to judge us for it? Exactly. And to be fair, he might actually have a point.
And while DROGAS Light is far from perfect, as Fiasco himself admits, these imperfections somehow succeeds in completing the concept. I’ll explain:
Try as hard as you can to think about the last perfect project that you listened to. Aside from the gutty stans that will inevitably claim GKMC as a perfect project, very few/absolutely no recent albums come to mind. Either they go too J-Cole on us and ‘sell-out’ by including a meaningless radio single on a content-based album, or they take the simply take the Drake route and water-down an entire release. Perhaps they push the ‘Ye button and get a little too radical for easy enjoyment, or go Frank on us and… okay, Frank Ocean actually might have actually made a damn near perfect album, but he’s not a rapper, so my point remains. Odds are the last perfect project you can list off was a little underground tape full of the raw emotion that still maintains replay value (*cough ACID RAP *cough), or an old school classic because you consider yourself to be some sort of hip-hop purist. On DROGAS Light, Fiasco reminds us of the standards that we once had, while simultaneously prepping us for his final 2 releases in the medium, tainting before taming. By making the perfect imperfect album, Lupe provides a commentary on the state of the game just as a way to tell us “told you so”, in advance.
DROGAS (Deep) will be unleashed on fans in a mere few months and will serve as the 2nd to last musical compilation in the same glorious catalog that brought us “Kick, Push” over 10 years ago. Lupe promises deeper concepts, deeper lyrics, and deeper beats on the next, following suit with the aforementioned T&Y.
The rap game is ready for its next perfect album; A 10/10. Lupe Fiasco will attempt to deliver that album, but in the mean time we’ll just enjoy the music for what its worth.
All in all, DROGAS Light still manages to come out on top, as one of the best albums thus far in 2017. But, it’s still just a 7/10.