Food & Liquor Stores Rest On Every Corner


Artist: Lupe Fiasco
Album: Food & Liquor

Lupe Fiasco’s debut album, Food & Liquor, solidifies him as one of the industry’s top emerging artists from Chicago’s underground. After several mixtapes and unfortunate leaks of the early versions of his album, Lupe has revamped his sound and style for his freshman album. With the accompaniment of Hip Hop dignitaries, Jill Scott and Jay-Z as well as hit-makers, The Neptunes, Kanye West and Soundtrakk, Lupe blazes through 16 notable tracks on an anthology of his best lyrical ability and production credits.

Lupe starts the album strong with tracks “Real,” “Just Might Be Okay,” and his first single, “Kick Push.” “Kick Push,” in combination with the efforts of N.E.R.D. constituent, Pharrell Williams, birthed the new trend of skateboard culture in Hip Hop and virtually put Lupe Fiasco on the map for those who had slept on his underground tracks or appearances with Kanye West, K Fox, and Tha Rayne.

Lupe’s second single in the U.S.,”I Gotcha,” with the skilled production of The Neptunes, has proven itself to be the most radio friendly and dangerously addictive track on the album. “I Gotcha” is followed by ballads, “The Instrumental” and “He Say She Say,” a song depicting Lupe’s father/son relationship and the toll it had on his coming of age.

Food & Liquor reveals its grassroots movement undertone with tracks “Sunshine,” a Common esque ode to Hip Hop, “Daydreamin,” an insult to the current state of the rap music industry featuring the neosoul vocals of Jill Scott, and “Hurt Me Soul,” a reflection on the darker sides of society. “Sunshine” can easily be misconstrued simply as a love song by less attentive listeners, but to the skilled ear, it is understood to be reminiscent of Common’s rap classic, “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” a tribute to Hip Hop culture disguised as a love song that depicts the de-evolution of Hip Hop as mainstream appeal increased.

Its like, don’t give the Black man food, give the red man liquor
Red man,
fool, black man, nigga
Give yellow man tool, make him railroad builda
Also, give him pan; make him pull gold from river
Give Black man crack,
glocks to teens
Give red man craps, slot machines
Now bring it back

“American Terrorist” is quite arguably the most controversial song on the album. The song portrays the plight of minority groups in America and criticizes warfare over tensions between religious affiliations. As a follower of Islam, Lupe Fiasco felt it imperative that he express his views on the war on terrorism and Iraq to remove possible confusion and denounce stereotypes.

The album ends with “The Emperor’s Soundtrack” and a part II to the leading single, “Kick Push,” which tells the story of troubled teens who use skateboarding as a form of release. The “Kick Push” b-side, adds dimension to the skateboarder references and personality to Lupe’s image.

After an outro giving a bevy of shout-outs to Lupe’s contributors, supporters and influences, it was no mystery as to why Food & Liquor was one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Lupe Fiasco has entered the mainstream on a strong front, leaving many fans in a state of curiosity similar to when NaS, Blackstar and The Roots first debuted, wondering if the next album could beat a classic.

Beats: 7.5
Rhymes: 8
Overall: 8

Published: The Hilltop
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~ by neorealist on October 25, 2006.

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