1st & 15th/Atlantic
Rating: 4 out of 5
Lasers wasn’t part of Lupe’s plan. He made that painstakingly clear before that LP was released. However, given it’s chart performance and gold-plus album and platinum plus singles, it was necessary. Now that Atlantic got that out of him, it was time for him to get back to business. There isn’t much you can preface a Lupe album review with these days. You know that he’s about his music, and the message it contains. His debut, Food & Liquor, was a classic before it leaked, and still excellent after the pre-release tweaks. The sequel, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, is a two-part sequel after the powers that be shot down the double album idea. Nonetheless, Lu is determined to get this album out, his way.
After one listen to tracks like “Ital (Roses), you get the feeling that he got his way. “Around My Way,” jacks Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s “T.R.O.Y.” and despite the friction from Pete Rock about it, it’s not bad at all, especially considering that Lupe got a very strong message across. “Bitch Bad” is an excellent breakdown of the b-word and it’s effect on the minds of young, malleable and perhaps unmentored America. Even deeper is “Lamborghini Angels” which is a little more controversial in nature as it addresses Sex Abuse in the church. I’m pretty sure no one else is touching on issues like this. Another standout, “Form Follows Function,” has Lupe turning his mind inside out over a bluesy track, spitting lyrics with no hook that you’ll be sure to run back a few times. Guest spots aren’t as much of a priority as they’ve been on previous Lupe efforts, but the spots he did offer fit right into the scheme of things. Bilal kills “How Dare You,” and Guy Sebastian makes “Battle Scars” feel like the opus Lu intended, as he gives it the soul someone like Skylar Grey lacks.
The production here is diverse, but fitting for each track, and other than “Bitch Bad,” there is no real standout “singles,” so to speak. The beats go from trap-like, to anthem-like, to soul, to pop. However, the set as a whole is potent. Lupe touches on a ton of issues impacting society as a whole, it should be received as a full set, so you can understand what he was trying to accomplish here. The set isn’t perfect, as Lupe still hasn’t perfected the art of chorus writing, so half the hooks on the LP are disposable or just not that interesting. Despite that, Lupe’s got one with part one of the F&L Sequel series.