Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Coolest Nigga

Maybe I forgot how good Lupe sounds. Or maybe there was not a great expectation on The Cool. Because if Lu's not the coolest rapper out by albums end, I don't know what you're not smoking. Lu gives us flow, flow, flow, content with concepts and swagger. The zone he reaches here is unseen; everything I heard, I loved. His word choice is concise and his vocab is big. When you think he's done rhyming, he pushes forward into new territory. I've found it difficult to unearth a flaw in Lu's mission to be the coolest. The Cool is all about Lu and he provides an amazingly simple socially thought provoking idea: Coolness. The depictions are vivid in their grandness, thoroughly felt and hauntingly real.

Although the opening spoken word by Lu’s sister had me giggling, the last lines made the point, “Freeze, cuz the problem is we think its cool too, check your ingredients before you overdose on ‘The Cool’”—vindication! Okay, ‘FREE CHILL’ but damn Lu wasted a good beat with “Free Chilly”.

The madness all starts on the first real track “Go Go Gadget Flow”. It’s Lu exercising his flow to the fullest. He serves the rhymes like this is a mixtape endeavor, as if he’s needs to prove something. It’s catchy too. I dig the way he says "rep-re-sen-ta-tive". “Got my hood ridin high, those 28s… and we’ll never ride dubs again, we walk, tryna get above the rim a little too short to dunk so we donk.”

What? Soundtrakk gives an easy, brooding background for “The Coolest” to prevail. Here is where the character, The Cool, opens with arrogance “I love the Lord but it’s sometimes like I love me more”, and moves onto the starry eyed romance, “she said that she would give me greatness status, placement above the others… the purpose of our scene, the obscene obsession for bling.” His first verse blazes through and offers some wicked vividness. His unique wordplay on the next verse continues to propel the story. With this “concept” present, Lu is still able to carry the track through his own swagger. When you think he’s done, his poetry style goes deeper.














“Superstar” manages to still captivate. It’s a single on the surface but when you sit down and listen, it’s a blessing. “Wanna believe my own hype but it’s untrue, the world brought me to my knees, what have you brung you, did you improve on the design did you do something new.” I mean most rappers should be raising their hands by now. Then Lu’s wizardry trails the deathly star spotlight, “The spotlights here can burn holes through the stage, down the through the basement past the Indian graves where the dinosaurs laid and out through china… ricochets off the moon and sets the forest ablaze…” Matt Santos, dude with that wicked voice, further enhances the track and Lu gives us 3 more than solid verses.





The favorite, “Paris, Tokyo” is where this talk of flow is Lu’s best showpiece. The spare beat coupled with Lu’s flow is reminiscent of some mid 90’s classics, “I love her and I hate to leave her lonely, ring ring went the iPhone it was my homie… I jump grab my Go Yard trunk got ready to “Walk it Out” like Unk in my John Lennon Chucks...” I could have continued but I couldn’t catch what he be saying sometimes yet it’s still ill. The second verse does it again too, “lean back on my first class seat and sleep, don’t wake me till I land where the barely understand what I speak but they nod to my beats… so I can get home and tell her everywhere I’ve been and everything that I’ve done and tell her that she’s the one and um.” Lupe took a laid back party sounding beat and flipped it into the stress of world travels and love. The his heir apparent flow elevated to break the rim on “Paris, Tokyo”.









The poppy beat on “Hi-Definition” had me going at first but I was immediately disappointed; I didn’t get his angle. But that’s what saves the track, the camera following every one of his moves while “in his flyness”. Snoop offers insight, “recital is very homicidal, the big screen will capture you because it’s hi-definition.” I still think both could have come harder considering the beat but it’s a minor gripe.

Material goods get the lips of Lu on “Gold Watch”. “My not go to college but my street smart polish… firm disbeliever in your punch clock traumas… not to be rude I’m just hatin on your rules.” He pushes his agenda clearly and effortlessly. It’s fly and overly fly (leaning on overkill), sensible (the anti-fly), story fitting and personal. As his third verse states: “But my most coveted thing is a high self esteem and a low tolerance for them telling me how to lean, see the most important parts are the ones that are unseen.”






In what could be seen as a send off to UGK, eerily considering Pimp C’s untimely death. Lu has made it clear he reveres the vets from Houston so it seems “Hip Hop Saved My Life” serves as a tribute to the group. Peep the first few lines note Pimp C and Bun B: “he said I write what I see, write to make it right don’t like where I be.” The “stack that cheese” add-in is uncanny. Lu paints this track with specifics (“Minute Maid got his mom working like a slave”, Minute Maid corporation is based in Houston) so well it’s scary. The coming of age story exalts the proverbial grind, puts down Southern inexpressiveness while sending a tribute to not only UGK but Hip-Hop itself. “Sumthin, sumthin, sumthin” and finish that hook!

Equipped with three different connections to intruders, “Intruder Alert” is sweet and beautiful. From an insecure woman “before long she was cool giving hugs to him” to a doper “every level of hell he‘s been to and the one that he’s stuck in and the one he can’t escape even though it’s of his own construction” to an illegal “the land of the free where they feed you treat you like equals deceive you stamp you and call you illegal”. There’s no hiccup and did he even take a breath? Throughout the song too, you sense a shift in mood. The supposed glory of the earlier cuts on The Cool will drastically change to darker tones hence the intruder.

The slow, creepy “Streets of Fire” brings death closer as Lu slips us glimpses of an Armageddon pending, “don’t let him in not a friend not a reflection… no pill can heal the ill of this… while the loudspeakers repeating that everything’s fine.” Lu’s character, The Streets, flexes it’s wings as Lu tries to bat her away.






Fallout Boy’s Patrick Stump should be given credit for creating the militaristic beat "Little Weapon". Lu goes wild as an African rebel soldier, “how old, well I’m like 10 or 11 been like since 6 or 7… this cannon give me courage not to fear no one, to feel no pain to hear no tongue.” Concepty? It may be but it still ties to the ambition’s of our country’s cool; he blasts The Cool off the page through an international cool. Bishop G’s video game infused rhymes make the song even better “I aim, I hold, right trigger and squeeze.”





“Gotta Eat” works on many levels: he’s got his concept thing going; I’ve heard you could interpret the song from a cheeseburger; purely how talented or how much fun he’s having that he can create a song filled with fast food drug references related to the hood. Whatever your reason for liking it, it goes down easy. By the way did you catch the Soulja Boy diss?

What makes “Dumb It Down” so tight, is that after 20 listens or so, I’m still trying to figure out what he’s saying. He goes from losing all of his senses to the whole being blind with the windshield smeared and it being minstrel while his grill is trill to ghosts biting necks mixed with ghostwriting supplying notes for the living to him being on cloud 9 to tooting his own horn to using excess depth to being David Blaine while making it rain and pulling the plug until he feels like flowing again. And he hasn’t used his head rest yet?!?






The darkness that “Intruder Alert” started was interrupted for a brief showcase with “Dumb It Down”. With “Hello/Goodbye” and “The Die” the mood continues The Cool’s descent. On first listen, these two missed me. But these two propel the story forward, er, downward towards “Put You On Game”. “Hello/GBye” sounds comic book-ish. It isolates our figure; he’s now the center of attention and the center of his own hell. The edgy rock gives the track a much need emotional luster. While Lu doesn’t knock this one out, he’s still draws The Cool’s going away party to a T; the coolness is beginning to drain. If “The Die” isn’t a gangster rap song, what is? It’s an honest gangster story not one of those Mafioso fairy tales. T.I. didn’t even buy that many shits! Gemini (now GemStones) perfectly rides, and kills the beat “rat-a-tat-tat, click-clack I needs in”. I love how Lu ends the track with “if some niggas do kill you in the next few minutes just remember there’s a heaven for a G” as if that’s consoling. The end of the track mini skit is dramatic, yes, but it is life like, if not movie like with “The Cool” playing in the background. The death is too real.





“Put You On Game” is the culmination of the story, The Cool. It’s devilish in sound, and Lu plays the role perfectly, inflecting as if to kill, again. I was left thinking Lu’s hard, like ‘damn, didn’t know he could do that?’ “They love my darkness… in return they’ve become my martyrs… speak every single language on the planet yah mean… I’m its gym and its math and its history… I taught them better than that, I told em aim for the head… you can watch on tv how they should properly depict ya… baptize em in the water out of Scarface pool.” He’s so concise with his word choice, and he weaves his words through with one of his better flows on the album.

I wished The Cool ended with “Put You On Game” but “Fighters” brings a positive end. It’s a hope for something better. It’s as if we have something inside of us but don’t let out or never look at. For those players of The Cool, there’s options, a place outside the misogyny, guns, drugs etc. Again Santos helps, and even saves, the track.

I like the up-beat “Go Baby” even if it doesn’t fit. I take it as a bonus track. The one verse he does have over three and a half minutes he knocks out “from baby fat till we skeletons darling”.

Lu’s conecpty songs on The Cool achieve two goals; they push his story, while constructing it, and entertain. Most of the tracks can hang on the concept, even if he doesn't bring his characters into the light; they add to the story to give The Cool fullness. And all the beats bang. Plus they're original. Only a few are great but not one beat supersedes Lupe as the main component to the song. Everything he bites off, he chews and easily digests. He took some chances: at 17 tracks, The Cool is an oddity in length. I can vouch and argue for any song. Lu made a single with true heart and longevity "Superstar", a beast of a street single/poetry in "Dumb It Down", a perfect ditsy song “Go Baby”, a concise concept “Put You On Game” and a throwback Hip Hop classic "Paris, Tokyo". It reeks with thoughtfulness, a wordsmith's poetry and a beautiful turn from bittersweet to an inevitable, dark spiral downwards.

I haven’t thrown out ‘Classic' since Jay Z's Blueprint. So let me do it again: Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool is a straight classic.

3 Comments:

At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Mally said...

Mally Agrees as every other hip hop head will also...

 
At 7:37 PM, Anonymous matt said...

ill piece maj

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

wow...thats a lot of wonderful commentary to take in,but i totally agree
-personally i think Lupe is the best

 

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