Monday, May 9, 2016

Day 9 | Food & Liquor x Lupe Fiasco

Artist: Lupe Fiasco
Album: Food & Liquor (2006)

When I attempt to list some of the greatest hip-hop records of the past decade, Lupe Fiasco's debut album, Food and Liquor comes to mind. This album is indefinitely my favorite Lupe album, absolutely an essential, and was a great way to begin a career. It's hard to believe we're now 10 years removed from its 2006 release, yet here I am, still able to find the words to speak very highly of it, as if yesterday were my very first time spinning it.

When Wasalu Muhammad Jaco stepped on the scene, it was the beginning of the blog era and my senior year of high school. Lupe Fiasco, protege of rap icon, Kanye West, made an extraordinary entrance in the music industry with this album and since then, has always had a unique edge musically. Here, we have this Muslim kid from Chicago rapping about a range of topics; from social issues and poverty to skateboarding and being an outcast. His whole persona felt so personal, because the same way Lupe conveyed his story on the album, I was also from an unfortunate part of town, but had unique interest in comparison to my peers. Although I've always loved hip-hop, this was one of those albums that truly helped me to not be afraid to stand out and taught me how to embrace my authentic self more, which can be a difficult thing to do for young people.

I vividly remember Food & Liquor catching fire instantly, because it was an authentic piece of work that was so innovative. Listening, one could only assume the sound was heavily inspired by Pharrell Williams and The Neptunes, who also had their hand in the production of this album. The album starts off with spoken word poetry by Lupe's sister Ayesha Jaco, which seemed to be accompanied by noises of urban Chicago in the background. Then there's a switch to his own introduction that starts with the Arabic opening to the holy Qua'ran and goes into explaining the good vs. evil concept of the title, Food & Liquor. From there, the listener flies right into this cohesive explosion of instrumentation and profound lyrical content throughout. 

I think fans of Lupe-including myself-have had a difficult time with keeping up with him since then, because other projects didn't quite compare; there was this super high expectation of consistency that came with the first release. I can say that there were a couple I didn't like as much, however it was hard not to fall in love back then. Taking albums for what they are and being open enough to try to understand them is how able to appreciate them, but this record really set the standard that he honestly has yet to tap into again. However, Food & Liquor left such a positive first impression that makes it even harder to detach myself from the love I have for him as an artist now.
-Chymere A.

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