Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (Atlantic)
Reviewed by Ramon Ramirez, Fri., Dec. 28, 2007
Lupe FiascoLupe Fiasco's The Cool (Atlantic)
Tireless hall monitor aesthetics and suspect taste be damned, Lupe Fiasco's narrative gifts and labyrinth flow carry weight. Alas, the game isn't kind to virtuosos who don't slow down workout regimens long enough to revel in ironic minstrelsy. Tough to imagine this guy getting any more famous, but now he's manifested and presented hip-hop's doomsday device: a missile set to vaporize rogue states of underground promoters, producers, and rappers – the kind to dish out $1,500 for 15 minutes of stage time before Chamillionaire rocks a car show. Welcome to The Cool. Welcome to not having a nerdy, bearded Northerner with specs wax worldly. Welcome to not having to listen to that Def Jux, tongue-twisting shit with no bounce just to feel better about jamming so much violence and misogyny. Welcome to cutting off dated neo-clowns like Common so they can pursue clothing lines and stock roles in action flicks. Soundtrakk's distinct production, his mechanic hybrids of syrupy soul, strings, and laser-beam synthesizer provide the canvas. And when Lupe rattles off stardom's pitfalls, and on about gentrification, AIDS, children murdering infidels in blind faith, his Japanese custom threads, touring's effect on romance, and representing Chicago to the fullest, he attacks. Make no mistake, The Cool's stuffy and its plot a bitch to decipher (only four joints detail the story), but every 16-bar verse is stuffed, even the glitzy Snoop collab, "Hi-Definition," with zingers garnishing crates of encrypted metrical compositions that demand critical analysis from student groups of no more than four, no less than two to a table.