The Score: "[On 'Food & Liquor 2'] There's A Ton Of Information, Much Of Which Might Take A Few Trips To Google Or Wikipedia"

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012 2:00PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

Buy Now
  • Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt.1
  • Lupe Fiasco
  • September 25, 2012
Red Eye Chicago 3/4
Rolling Stone 3/5
The Guardian 3/5
The Versed 4.5/5
HHDX 4/4

It's been just over a year since Lupe Fiasco dropped his chart-topping Lasers album and the witty pro-socio awareness emcee is back with his latest offering in Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 2.

With his name plastered over blogs and music sites as of late, Fiasco aims to let his music do all the talking with his latest effort.

Lupe Fiasco appears to be in a better place than he was the last time he came around pushing a proper studio release with Lasers . No public label disputes or New York City sanctioned protests organized by his rabid fan base were needed to secure a release date. No petulant outbursts about hating the album just weeks before hitting retail. Sure, there was a second President Obama flap, too many Chief Keef mentions, and another inevitable collision with a notable publication, but that's beginning to feel like par for L-U-P-Enigma. Ever since Fiascogate, the Chicagoan's tendency to drop on-wax wizardry and arguably off-wax word vomit has become his career's sardonic narrative, juxtaposed like those food and liquor stores in the Chi. But Wasulu Jaco doesn't cow-tow to the propaganda peddlers. For better and worse, he never has. On Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, Lupe Fiasco remains as resolute as ever. (HHDX)

Despite his disinterest in taking part in elections, Fiasco uses the album to spit out his political views and stance toward current global issues.

Lupe, on the other hand, conveys politics by delivering lectures that veer toward condescendion and often forget that one of the central ideas of music is that it's supposed to serve as entertainment. It's hard to imagine anyone under the age of 40 seriously getting into the cranky old man hook on the "F&L II" track "Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)," for instance, which includes the phrase "a bunch of nonsense on my TV." Lupe too often succumbs to bad instincts with grandiosity. He serves as a cautionary tale for how a great rapper might end up being memorialized by some as the guy who rapped from the point of view of a cheeseburger, as he once did on "The Cool" track "Gotta Eat", while being celebrated by the most annoying kind of listeners: rigid fans who dismiss detractors as unable to get the message (there's nothing complicated about "Bitch Bad" -- it's just a bad, patronizing song). (RedEye Chicago)

With platinum plaques to his name, Fiasco does not sway away from drilling memorable content into his songs.

"Hope my stories . . . keep your sons out the slums and your daughters out of orgies," raps Lupe Fiasco on his fourth album. Like a lot of firebrands, Lupe's got a messianic streak. But it's hard to begrudge his swelled head: What other chart-topping star packs his songs full of radical politics, black-history lessons and sci-fi visions of environmental catastrophe? Food & Liquor II has the usual Lupe deficiencies: a hectoring tone ("Bitch Bad") and bombastic beats that pile-drive messages home. He's better when he relaxes a little: Songs like "Hood Now," a celebration of black cultural takeover, have a lighter touch, and hit twice as hard. (Rolling Stone)

He also showcases his intricate writing scheme and style on the LP.

His approach to writing is definitely dense, and will take even the most seasoned listener more than few spins to grasp everything, but that's the brand of music he makes. There's a ton of information, much of which might take a few trips to Google or Wikipedia, but that's always been part of his appeal. This isn't the type of music you want to throw on when you're in the mood to party or work out to, but it definitely displays some of the most impressive wordsmithing hip hop has to offer this year, especially if you're only looking at acts and artists that are widely embraced by the "mainstream." (The Versed)

Although highly-praised by critics, some music reviewers noted slight issues.

The album isn't perfect. Fiasco makes his art to appeal to a wide audience, and thus must deal with commercial strictures and pressures. Thus, there are the few obvious mis-steps - songs that are meant to be single-mindedly and non-specifically inspirational; ones that veer too far from the record's thematic strengths. Musically, too, it would benefit from a wider range of moods - while the epic-sounding, mid-tempo beats fit most material, the sound becomes overwhelming over the course of a whole record. There is also, as we will talk about below, a sequencing issue that temporarily drags the record to a screeching halt. (Huffington Post)
However, it admittedly isn't targeted at the die-hard hip hop heads who have an understanding of what's widely considered "hip hop's golden age". If Dead Prez , Deltron 3030, or Public Enemy means anything to you, don't be surprised when this album isn't what you'd considered ideal (though it's probably your expectations that need adjusting). But, if that's you, you'd probably see it as the perfect gift for your son, daughter, niece, or nephew that incessantly listens to Young Money records. (The Versed)

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