Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (Atlantic)

Though some believe Lupe Fiasco is too smart for mainstream rap, that's not exactly true. Most of the lyrics on his sophomore release, Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, are pretty basic, cliché stuff, right down to the CD's opening monologue: "They thought it was cool to tear down the projects and put up million-dollar condos, gentrification. They think it's cool to stand on the block hiding product in their socks, making quick dime-bag dollars." Like Common and Talib Kweli on their latest albums, Fiasco seems to believe that paying lip service to problems plaguing the black community is the same as substantively addressing their causes and potential solutions. Much of The Cool is wrapped around a complex street narrative involving characters called The Cool, The Streets, and The Game, which will make for a better comic book (as Fiasco has promised) than it does a concept album. Oddly The Cool works better when it's serving up frantic club bangers and radio-friendly R&B. "Go Go Gadget Flow," a tribute to his hometown of Chicago, might be the single of the year, while "Superstar" is a winning empowerment jam. "Hi-Definition," featuring Snoop Dogg and Pooh Bear, shows that Fiasco has an ear for concocting hits.

 
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