Lupe fans unite!! I know if you downloaded his second annual Thanksgiving mixtape Friend Of The People you have been rejoicing for the past few weeks. In my opinion, Lupe has some of the best skills in the game but the general public really just doesn’t understand him. Lupe is a smart guy and with that comes his very adamant feelings about our nation’s politics and major issues across the globe. Lupe brings these passions to his music which I personally believe is what makes him great. When you’re passionate, the music is better. This project from Lupe was so innovative and crazy that many believed it has brought Lupe back to the top of his game. I asked my close friend and Uptown Soldier correspondent Jordan Cohen to review the mixtape as I felt it was a project many needed to hear about or compare their feelings on. This is definitely a must read and do so after downloading and listening to the mixtape. Hit the jump for the review. Artwork by Topgfxx.
Uptown Soldier’s Lupe Fiasco – Friend Of The People Mixtape Review:
Lupe Fiasco has been a man of high controversy over the last few years. Starting with issues related to the release of LASERS last March, and continuing with Lupe’s recent political views, he has certainly stirred up the hip-hop community. By harnessing his amazing ability to paint lyrical pictures, his passion for intellectual thinking, and progressive beat selection; Lupe might have released the most important mixtape of the last five years. Friend of the People is classic Lupe; the lyrics are intense and almost always multi-layered. For those who actually thought that Lupe Fiasco “dropped off”, can be safely assured that wasn’t the case. For those who are getting into the Electro/House movement, you will be happily surprised as Lupe murders beats influenced by the sound with perfect flow. For those who want to get inside the head of Lupe will be pleased. He shares all his thoughts however unpopular they may be.
It took four years for Lupe Fiasco to release a hip-hop album after the critically acclaimed The Cool. Lupe and Atlantic Records battled over the release of the record for the length of a presidency. Although an online petition with thousands of fans’ signatures helped pave the way to the release, the result was disappointing in the eyes of many. In essence, fans were disappointed by the lack of “Lyrical Lupe”, and the radio friendly sound of the album. With songs like “Shining Down”, “I’m Beamin’”, “Building Minds Faster”, and “Go to Sleep”, Lupe displayed he could still dominate any song. The huge differential in lyrical quality displayed between LASERS and those songs had some fans very upset. I personally thought the album was decent given the circumstances. Clearly Lupe wasn’t happy with the final product, and as such, fans needed to take that into consideration when listening. Although the sound of the album was very pop like, it was a good step for Lupe to take before jumping right into the heavy electro sound he raps over in Friend of the People. Lupe is a very creative and ambitious person, as shown by the release of his rock album Japanese Cartoon, and work as The SoundClash; a DJ duo of Lupe and Sky Gellatly. Lupe Fiasco is not only about progressing hip-hop in lyrical content, but also advancing the sound. This is important for the growth of hip-hop, and there is no one better than Lupe to lead the charge (Although Jay and Ye definitely can take some credit).
But this is about Lupe Fiasco’s mind more than anything else. The dude has so much to say about our world, and is not afraid to say it regardless of the popularity of the view. For the second time in three years, Lupe drops a mixtape on Thanksgiving Day. In the into track titled “Lupe Back” Lupe proclaims “I fight evil, everyday I’m livin/Rest in peace to men, women, and children/And middle fingers to the Pilgrims that killed ‘em/Friend of the People, happy Thanksgiving.” Lupe’s move from Enemy of the State to Friend of the People should be accompanied by the listener’s understanding that Lupe doesn’t support terrorism and evil. This is further mirrored by the reality of him explaining the fact that the pilgrims killing the Native Americans jumpstarted a theme that would continue throughout our countries’ history. Lupe is mocking our culture at the end of the song; our most festive feast a year actually celebrates murder. At the end of the introduction track a machine is programmed from “Enemy – I kill people” to “Friend – I fight evil”, emphasizing the duality of his mixtapes further.
Lupe calling Obama a terrorist in the news, and his subsequent interview on the O’Reilly Factor has put him in a very bad light recently with harsh criticism of his views. But listen to historian Howard Zinn in the introduction track where he asks why we have to be a military power as opposed to a humanitarian power. I won’t go into the pros and cons of U.S. foreign policies, but the ideas are at minimum intriguing and forces you to at least think about the issue. As a friend of the people, Lupe believes in the right of the people to succeed and follow their dreams. Lupe is the leader in a fight against corruption even going so far to say that rappers should unite and unionize like the athletes in “Lupe Back”. Lupe calls out record labels for prostituting artists and forcing female artists to look perfect over the heavy electric sounding beat. In “Friend of the People” Lupe enlists the help of All City Chess Club member Dosage to call out the corruption in government. The metal infused beat is crazy, but it is a bit difficult to catch all of what Lupe is saying, which is so important in grasping all his lyrical content. In “Double Burger With Cheese” Lupe crafts a message about black culture through the use of scenes in “Menace to Society II” and other movies over a beat that would fit perfectly on “The Cool”. Although these movies are a significant part of the culture and helped raised a generation, the stereotypes portrayed in the movies has also caused harm to the culture as well. Lupe uses the help of the persona of “Joaquin Phoenix” for his next song, killing the beat with incredible wordplay and entendres. With “I am Superman, just without the damn U” Lupe calls out Soulja Boy, as well as using his new word “Sperman” to continue the bars about his masculinity. Lupe alludes to Miles Davis, a revolutionary Jazz artist, and how Lupe wants to emulate him by creating a new progressive sound. This song is a good start. In “WWJD HE’D PROBABLY LOL LIKE WTF” Lupe attacks corporations like Apple and Nike for abusing poor labor while also taking shots at how consumerism and materialism has taken over our culture. Over the progressive electro beat, Lupe says “a revolutionary way of being alone/ I mean, should we really get a loan”, he comments on how Americans are abusing credit to purchase the new hot gadgets that causes isolation and a loss of personal relationships.
The next track is Lupe’s “Lightwork” over the excellent Bassnectar track sampling Ellie Goulding. With sick metaphors and rhymes Lupe discusses the Israel/Palestine conflict, Atlantic Records, the American political system, black culture, and his fight against corruption. With his line “Funny how I’m only sick if you never catch a thing.” Lupe comments on how he’s only a “good” rapper from the label’s perspective if there is no meaning and it can get a lot of plays on the radio, but also how some of his fans upset about LASERS only think he’s good if his lyrics are so complex they don’t catch any of them. With the obvious metaphor of being actually “sick” in this line as well, it shows just how in depth and crazy he gets with some of his words. At the end of the track Lupe promises to never ruin the young and gives advice to his LASERS on how to live a purposeful life. On the soft jazzy “Life, Death, and Love from San Francisco,” Lupe gives us a nice smooth track about a woman trying to find love and falling into the wrong crowd. A great break up from the heavier sounding production; the track is an excellent addition. Lupe then goes absolutely HAM, killing the Soundtrack produced song “SLR (Super Lupe Rap)”. With “Cause n*gga I don’t believe that/Like 9/11 came from Iraq” Lupe shares his controversial views with one of the most important lines on the album. Lupe’s has been very firm in his ant-war stance and the line symbolizes that. Lupe also compares himself to the SLR Mercedes throughout the song saying he doesn’t sell as many numbers but is still on top and prestigious, then he hints at even better things to come by asking if the Ferrari is next. The hook characterizes Lupe perfectly, he is all alone in lyrical ability as well as his need to share his views and help shape the world. Near the end of the track he claims, “Top 5 alive and only got 2 out” and “2 man Big Pun, a 1 man Slaughterhouse/A 2 album Jay-Z/ a 1 n*gga Wu-Tang/Young and hungry Mos Def/ a conscious rappin Lil Wayne.” Lupe is comparing himself to other greats in the game, but still he puts himself on a whole new level. With “Words and lines of mine, I feel, are better than every rap in the world combined”, he makes it official with great enthusiasm. In “SNDCLSH IN VEGAS”, Lupe delves further on his issues with Obama, Atlantic, and politics over Kaskade & Skrillex’s “Lick It”. Lupe winds down the mixtape with “Super Cold”, an awesome sounding track with Lupe dropping crazy metaphors dealing with being well, “super cold”. The last song “End of the World” is an epic closing track that acts as the Occupy Wall Street anthem. Lupe drops rhymes about the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has spread like wildfire throughout our country. Lupe supports the right of the people to take a stand in what they believe in. Lupe has visited multiple Occupy sites, and is a crusader for the movement throughout the tape.
Friend of the People is an amazing mixtape. Lupe kills every line with metaphors galore, and concepts abound. Lupe Fiasco is a lyrical genius, and the mixtape only escalates the anticipation for Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album. Lupe is here to stay and dominate the hip-hop scene for the foreseeable future (unless he retires of course). His progressive beat selection shows Lupe as a leader of the industry; expect many to follow in his footsteps. A complete mixtape with depth and substance, you get more value here than most albums dropped the whole year. And if at the end of the day you are disgusted with his views, and can’t stand the heavy production, you can at least know you and Lupe do agree on at least one thing: “It disgusts me/like Jerry Sandusky”.