In 2007, Lupe Fiasco released one of his best works (in my opinion), The Cool. It's a 19-track conceptual and conscious project that is definitely a favorite of mine. It reminds me so much of high school.
This was definitely my favorite album at the time. I first heard of Lupe from my older sister who told me to check him out because she knew I was into conscious rap. I had no clue who he was.
I remember I was at a Circuit City store (when they were still in business, well right before it closed actually) and they had a huge closing sale so all of their CDs were like $5 each. I grabbed so many, and one of them was Lupe Fiasco's The Cool. That's when I first heard the album and was so impressed. I still am.
The album opens super strong with an intro track called "Baba Says Cool For Thought." It's a spoken word track. The lyrics are great here, and they mimic a lot of what Cole's recent KOD album is referencing as well.
They thought it was cool to burn crosses on your front lawn as they hung you from trees in your backyard
They thought it was cool to leave you thirsty and stranded, Katrina
He thought it was cool to carry a gun in his classroom and open fire, Virginia Tech, Columbine, stop the violence
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 to make quick dime bag dollars
They think it's cool to ride down on you in blue and white unmarked cars busting you upside your head
Cause the problem is we think it's cool too
Check your ingredients before you overdose on The Cool
The opening track makes you think. And lets you know this IS a Lupe album. He's saying real things on these songs, even though they sound good. They have meaning.
We say everything is "cool" but a lot of it isn't. We say things we don't mean. We mean things we don't say.
"Dumb It Down" is another great song that makes you think about music and culture. He's saying how public response to his music is to "dumb it down" because the words he is using are too big for people to comprehend. People aren't trying to think when they listen to music. He's not gonna sell records if he doesn't dumb his wordplay down. He's not talking about the right things. Lupe's response: no. He didn't change at all.
Lupe tells the story of a young black man who prevents resorting to drugs and murder by making it as a rapper. This song was inspired by Slim Thug
Overall I love this album as it represents maybe my first instance of hearing a concept album, as loose as it is here. I love Lupe as an artist and the message he sends in his lyrics. He was my favorite rapper for a while. I have seen him perform a few times, too. And he was great.
Most reviews aren't crazy about this album. Lupe hyped it up so much as a great concept album before it was released that people felt let down while actually listening through the album. Luckily for me, I don't share that experience. I also have so much nostalgia tied to this album, that it's just one of those ones that I can listen to anytime. Thanks Lupe.