Its hard to believe that its been almost nine years since the release of Lupe Fiasco’s debut album Food & Liquor (and what an album it was), tracks like Kick Push and Daydreamin’ have become timeless classics whilst the album as a whole gave Hip Hop fans a new favourite artist. Throughout the years the Chicago rapper has continued to evolve, constantly pushing the envelope with different sounds and styles however; they haven’t always been accepted by the fans. In 2011 his third album Lasers came under much scrutiny from fans for being to mainstream and to commercial and the same could be said about his follow up Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1. Now three years later and Lupe has released Tetsuo & Youth his fifth and most diverse album to date, an album filled with abstract lyrics and distinct production, an album the man himself has labelled a masterpiece.
The opening track Summer which is one of four instrumentals that appear on the album represents a tranquil environment with soothing sounds of a violin and kids playing in the background, a perfect depiction of its name. The intro runs for about a minute and a half and its not until a minute into Mural that we actually get to hear Lupe’s voice but I can tell you its definitely worth the wait. Clocking in at a mammoth 8 minutes and 48 seconds Mural is the ultimate way to get the ball rolling, spitting straight bars that almost sounds like a freestyle this verbal onslaught is filled with intense lyrical world play or as Lupe likes to call it ‘lyrics on top of lyrics on top of lyrics’.
Surprisingly though Mural is not the longest track on the album! That title goes to the hard hitting trap banger Chopper which runs over 9 minutes and features a total of seven rappers including Billy Blue, Buk of Psycholodrama, Trouble, Trae Tha Truth, Fam-Lay, Glasses Malone and of course Lupe. Guy Sebastian makes a return on the track Blur My Hands however; I’m sure all fans will be relieved as it sounds nothing like their previous collaboration Battle Scars! Lupe raps like a man on a mission whilst Guy provides a soulful touch which creates a quality track. Adoration Of The Magi featuring Crystal Torres and Deliver featuring Ty Dolla $ign feature the type of production you might expect for a lead single, both Crystal Torres and Ty Dolla $ign provide spot on features whilst Lupe brings his incredible lyrical ability to the table.
Whilst Lupe doesn’t get over topical on this album he does raise a few issues particularly in the heartfelt track Prisoner 1 & 2. Rapping about America’s corrupt prison system you can tell this track means a lot to him, you can hear the passion in every word he speaks. Halfway through the song we are split by a poem spoken by Lupe’s sister Ayesha Jaco over the sounds of jail doors closing and sharp violins which creates an eerie atmosphere definitely one of the highlights of the album.
Tetsuo & Youth is the Lupe the fans have been missing, it shows his progression as an artist and features some of his finest work since The Cool. Its a beautifully constructed album that I’m sure all Hip Hop fans will love.