9. Lupe Fiasco – The Cool
Once upon a time Lupe Fiasco was the Next Big Thing in "conscious" hip-hop. Immediately after The Cool dropped, an air of excitement just followed the man around -- much like the one that surrounded Kanye West after the release of The College Dropout. Except Lupe's lyrics were smarter, his attitude was more nuanced, his rhymes were both quicker and wittier. And for one album, he bested his colleague's theatricality.
There's no shortage of Faust retellings in pop culture (in fact there's another in this list), but Lupe's interpretation mixes in equal parts allegory and autobiography. Lupe's characters in The Cool all strive for greatness, and face a choice between different sorts of good and evil. Lupe becomes every aspiring rapper that has ever been or will be, and along the way writes some of his most heartfelt numbers; "Hip Hop Saved My Life" is so earnest that any lesser emcee would make it laughable. But the finest moments on The Cool come when Lupe goes bad. His stint as a mafioso cheeseburger in "Gotta Eat" stands out, as does his ice-cold Mephistopheles in "Put You On Game."
A staged version of The Cool could be as past-meets-present as its premise. Its multifaceted exploration of urban culture is reminiscent of Rent and Moving Out. Lupe's large cadre of male and female guest singers opens up diverse cast options. Many arrangements on The Cool sport lush string sections as well as big electric beats. This adaptation could even be a smart career option for Lupe if Food And Liquor II fails as a return to form.
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Now that December is upon us, publications are starting to roll out their year-end lists. In the preface to our own countdown of the year’s best albums, we noted how subjective that pursuit is, but there is a more objective way to determine what music ruled 2014: cold hard facts. And what do you know,… More »
When Kanye West’s ferocious new album Yeezus leaked to the internet, it wasn’t clear which of Kanye’s army of collaborators helped out on which songs, or who many of those collaborators even were. We’d read stories of Paris apartment recording sessions with Daft Punk, or of Rick Rubin helping Kanye strip his tracks down to… More »
The world has come a long way since the Who released Tommy in 1969. Tomorrow night, a stage adaptation of the Flaming Lips’ seminal 2002 rock opera Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots will premiere at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse. It’s not Broadway, but it is an indicator that the era of the rock opera… More »
It’s a full-on revolution down at Occupy Wall Street right now; the contingent seems to be growing every day, with no sign that it will be relenting any time soon. People are pissed and enacting their democratic right, and there’s a lot to be said about that. The movement’s growing size has stoked a media… More »
Wilco, The Strokes, Lupe Fiasco, The Decemberists, and many many others headed down to New Orleans for the week-long New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The festival started in the 70s, and it’s gotten pretty diverse — there probably aren’t many other festivals where you could catch Arcade Fire, Gregg Allman Blues Band, Lupe Fiasco,… More »
Last week the Animal Collective bros released an official mixtape for their new … sneakers. That is a thing now. Gotta keep fans on their toes (ouch, sorry). The shoes which you can see here benefit the Socorro island Conservation Fund, and they are cruelty free, except to your eyes.
I did some… More »
At long last here’s the 35-minute short film Kanye briefly teased at the VMAs last month. The usual suspects — Pusha T, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj (in a Brit accent), and Bon Iver — make vocal assists, and allegedly 90% of this soundtrack will appear on the forthcoming LP. “Runaway” (written by Hype Williams and shot… More »
Kanye West released his latest G.O.O.D. Friday track right on time (or, slightly late, since he Tweeted in from Japan early Saturday morning). The trio have used the Child Rebel Soldier name a couple times before, on 2007’s “Us Placers,” and on the remix to N.E.R.D.’s 2008 single, “Everyone Nose,” so this collaboration’s been i… More »
This is how you stunt for publicity: An unlikely assemblage of superstars have banded together to raise awareness about the global clean water crisis by climbing Africa’s tallest peak, Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro. That’s 19.340 feet, the very typing of which alone seizes my height-fearing heart. The troupe of charitable backpackers includes Santi White, Lupe Fiasco,… More »
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By Scott Lapatine & Amrit Singh
Saturday was mostly just your standard, hot, sold out, music-filled day at Lolla. Until Rage. Wilco were great and photogenic… More »
Kanye, remember when times were simpler, when you had your innocence and shit wasn’t so ham-fistedly black and white? Well, even if he doesn’t, this VA$HTIE-directed video for “Us Placers” from Kanye’s Can’t Tell Me Nothing mix finds cute lil’ kidz versions of ‘Ye, Lupe, Pharrell, and Thom Yorke (slumped and depressed like Rain Man,… More »
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Thanks to Roman for taking time out of his weekend festivities to drop a line about a new Lupe track “sampling” Thom Yorke’s “The Eraser” (really, it’s the track mostly unmodified with Fiasco, Kanye, and Pharrell taking turns with their verses). The off-time keyboard chords are well suited to the trio’s syncopated lyrical drills, and… More »