One of my buddies at work flipped out Lupe Fiasco's new album, the Cool, and after checking out the disc last night I understand why. I'm giving that motherfucker a hug tomorrow.
I generally listen to what most hip-hop heads would consider "backpack rap": shit you jam on your iPod that would never get spun in a club. Think Kool Keith to gain perspective on that assessment. And the reason for this particular musical proclivity is because rap music has become all about ego and I find that pathetic. I could give two shits less that you feel artistically impulsed to brag about how much money, women or cars you have. Chris Rock put it best (and I'm paraphrasing), you used to be able to intellectualize this genre. And then N.W.A. happened.
So when I first listened to the Cool, it was like a revelation. For all of the praise Kanye West gets he acts like a bitch a little too much since he doesn't get all the shine. I believe that undermines some of the messages he tries to convey through his music which is why I have heavy reservations whenever his new disc drops. Don't get to wowed with Kanye because as soon as MTV decides he ain't worth a VMA nod, he'll act like a little spoiled brat and cry about it. So the fuck what if you don't get the Vitamin Water endorsement 50 Cent got? You're doing more for hip-hop than that douche bag ever will. Lupe Fiasco is doing what Kanye West strains, and yet miserably fails, to accomplish: bringing back the credibility to a staid and weak genre. And yes, there are a couple bangers on the disc.
My favorite track is hands down "Dumb it Down." It's a well reasoned and never out right vicious critique of what friends and foes of hip-hop have come to expect and why he won't stoop to pacifying Lil Wayne fans or upper crust crackers who love rap music for encouraging lowered expectations. Saul Williams addresses this head on and ferociously, but while I dig both I think that Lupe will win out since he's utilizing more subtle methods that won't instantly turn off those he's trying to convert. Plus, the Cool doesn't sound like a Nine Inch Nails album.