Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (2007) Last year, Lupe Fiasco set himself apart from the rap pack with a debut full of brainy, Kanye-style positivity, including a laid-back skateboarding anthem, "Kick,… 2007-12-18 Lupe Fiasco Hip-Hop/Rap
Music Review

Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (2007)

Lupe Fiasco | LUPE FIASCO Despite its ''gangsta'' hype, The Cool builds on the divergent themes and musical explorations of his impressive debut
Image credit: Lionel Deluy
LUPE FIASCO Despite its ''gangsta'' hype, The Cool builds on the divergent themes and musical explorations of his impressive debut
EW's GRADE
A-

Details Release Date: Dec 18, 2007; Lead Performance: Lupe Fiasco; Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Last year, Lupe Fiasco set himself apart from the rap pack with a debut full of brainy, Kanye-style positivity, including a laid-back skateboarding anthem, ''Kick, Push.'' You might wonder what happened to that guy if you've read how his follow-up, The Cool, is a concept album about gangsta life. But in truth, only four songs address that story line — thankfully leaving the bulk of this CD to instead indulge in Fiasco's divergent themes and musical explorations.

Want self-righteous anger? See ''Dumb It Down,'' where he imitates fellow rappers and white execs urging him to get crass (''Pour champagne on the b---- !'' he bellows satirically). Want blistering social commentary? Check out ''Little Weapon,'' which conflates videogame violence with the real stuff. Want wistfulness? ''Fighters'' laments that ''when the fighters are all around, all the lovers are underground.'' Want bubblegum? Head to the album's climax, the goofy, girl-crazy ''Go Baby Go.''

Sonically, he's got the same kind of gratifying ADD going on. Some tracks, like ''Paris, Tokyo,'' contrast his Twista-style rapid-fire delivery with a lazy rhythm that's close to smooth jazz. ''Hello/Goodbye,'' at the other extreme, has U.K. electro outfit U.N.K.L.E. providing a tense rock feel. Fiasco's wide-ranging pop instincts rarely fail him, even on the few cuts that are steeped in the street-life narrative. It turns out randomness makes for a surprisingly unifying concept.
DOWNLOAD THIS: ''Hello/Goodbye''

Originally posted Dec 14, 2007 Published in issue #970 Dec 21, 2007 Order article reprints
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